November 13, 2016 to December 10, 2016
Project Location: 
St. Cloud State University
Alternate Project Names: 
Mobile Atmospheric Research Vehicles for Enhanced Learning Opportunities for Undergraduate Students
Project Description: 
Mobile Atmospheric Research Vehicles for Enhanced Learning Opportunities for Undergraduate Students (MARVELOUS)

Principle Investigators: Rachel Humphrey & Dr. Alan Srock
Where: St. Could State College, MN
When: 13 November - 3 December 2016
Facility: CSWR Doppler on Wheels
Final Report: MARVELOUS Final Report

 

Overview

Intended to run from 13 November through 3 December (but actually extending through 10 December), the Mobile Atmospheric Research Vehicles for Enhanced Learning Opportunities for Undergraduate Students (MARVELOUS) project offered undergraduate students at St. Cloud State University (SCSU) a unique chance to learn how to operate, collect data with and analyze data from state-of-the-art in-situ and remote sensing instrumentation. In addition, the project afforded students enrolled in the SCSU Atmospheric and Hydrologic Sciences (AHS) and STEM Education (STEM Ed) programs the opportunity to participate and lead multiple educational outreach events and activities, greatly expanding their exposure to applications and experiences well beyond the scope and confines of a traditional classroom setting. As a result, over 40 undergraduate students, 100 members of the general public, and more than 1000 K-12 students were directly impacted by this project, as detailed in the following project summary.

On-Campus Student Preparation and Training
As proposed, one of the academic merits of MARVELOUS was that it was designed to bolster topics covered in AHS 468 (Radar and Satellite Meteorology) as well as other related AHS courses offered at SCSU. Three weeks prior to the start of the MARVELOUS project, students enrolled in AHS 468 (as well as five additional undergraduate AHS students) were trained by PI Humphrey1 in how to use of SOLOII software for the visualization of Doppler On Wheels (DOW) radar data through a series of hands-on modules designed specifically for this project. In these modules, old datasets with winter-time meteorological conditions (lake-effect snow and nor’easters) were accessed, examined and analyzed by students. Beyond this, copies of “how-to” documents (provided by the Center for Severe Weather Research [CSWR]) were provided to the entire AHS department, ensuring any student who wanted to learn how to use the equipment would have the background knowledge beneficial to hands-on training. Students in AHS 468 were also trained how to use Microsoft Excel to plot the DOW mesonet and POD data in preparation for the multiple types of data they expected to collect during field operations.

Once the DOW and (four) in-situ PODs were physically on campus, students were divided up into small groups and instructed on the operation of both the DOW and the PODs during allotted 50-minute intervals2. (While this may seem like a very short amount of time for the groups, it should be noted that not only was prior instruction on safe/logical deployment practices and siting provided [and tested] in class, students were also given [and tested on] the instructional documents for both DOW and POD operations provided by CSWR.)

Finally, in anticipation of the project, students were given sample DOW and POD deployment and field logs, and were instructed on filling them out properly and completely; examples provided to students appear in Figs. 1a and 1b.

Figure 1a. Sample field logs for POD deployments.


Figure 1b. Sample field logs for DOW deployments.


1 No staff member from CSWR was present in St. Cloud during this educational project, as PI Humphrey was already an experienced DOW operator and POD technician.
 
2 Admittedly, the necessity of staggering a group of 20 AHS 468 students (due to size limitations of the DOW interior and the number of PODs) initially presented a time-management challenge; in fact, the first opportunity for the class to go out into the field actually occurred before every student had “officially” received training on operations. However, as discussed below in the section detailing IOP I, this was met with very positive results, including students teaching each other “on the fly” during operations, and proved to be a boon to student learning and information retention for everyone involved.