September 14, 2015 to October 3, 2015
Project Location: 
Macomb, IL
Project Description: 

 

The DOW at Western Illinois University: Education, Outreach and Research

The Doppler on Wheels (DOW) was deployed to Western Illinois University from September 14 to October 3, 2015. The DOW was used as part of the GEOG 300: Weather Instruments course, which had an enrollment of 9 undergraduate students, including 6 meteorology, 1 pre-business economics, 1 geology and 1 computer science major. While this was a small class, the DOW never sat idle for very long. If it wasn’t out on a project, the DOW was at an outreach event. The DOW was also used in an Honors Thesis project that will be presented at the 2016 AMS Annual Meeting Student Conference and the WIU Undergraduate Research Day. In addition to student projects, the DOW was also involved in 5 outreach events for the community and local schools, 7 class tours for WIU students and the WIU Homecoming Parade.

Since this was the second time the DOW was deployed to WIU, we improved on what we accomplished two years ago. Just the fact that we worked with the DOW before made the entire experience go more smoothly. Course instruction related to the DOW and radar operation/interpretation was more targeted to issues the students were most likely to encounter in the field and project planning was more effective given what we’d learned during the first deployment. Student projects ended up much more complete this year because the PI was better able to direct the investigation. Our outreach events were also better because the schools had seen the DOW before and knew what to expect. Several high school teachers even designed class assignments to go with the DOW visit this time. We also included a trip to the WIU Quad Cities campus where students and the local community had the opportunity to visit the DOW.

Educational Objectives

The primary objective for the DOW deployment was to enhance instruction in the Meteorology program at WIU, with a specific focus on the Weather Instruments course. The secondary objective was to use the DOW for outreach when it was not being used by courses in the Meteorology program.

The DOW was used to enhance instruction in the Meteorology program in numerous ways. All of our current Meteorology undergraduate and Geography graduate students had the opportunity to tour the DOW and receive training. Thirteen training sessions were held for 29 students from Sept. 14 through Sept. 18.

Class tours also gave both meteorology majors and general education students a chance to talk to the DOW technician and get a tour of the truck. Students also saw footage from some research missions the DOW has been on. The following courses toured the DOW:

  • 86 students from two sections of Marcus Buker’s GEOG 120 (Introduction to Weather and Climate) general education, natural sciences course
  • 9 students from Redina Herman’s GEOG 329 (Dynamic Meteorology I) junior-level course required for Meteorology majors
  • 50 students from Tom Williams’ GEOG 120 (Introduction to Weather and Climate) general education, natural sciences course
  • 12 students from Redina Herman’s GEOG 432 (Physical Meteorology) senior-level course required for Meteorology majors
  • 9 students from Redina Herman’s GEOG 300 (Weather Instruments)  elective course required for Meteorology majors
  • 10 students from Marcus Buker’s GEOG 322 (Synoptic Meteorology I) junior-level course required for Meteorology majors

In order to enhance instruction, the DOW was directly incorporating into the Weather Instruments course. The use of the DOW in the Instruments course had several goals: (1) introduce students to the operation of a research radar, (2) plan and carry out a field project, including scanning strategy, site selection and flexibility while in the field, and (3) visualize radar data using SOLO3 and interpret the data to gain insight into the observed phenomena. In addition to enhancing the Instruments course, the DOW campaign also provided data for future student research projects. The visualization and analysis of this data will also be incorporated into the GEOG 333: Data Visualization and Analysis course in fall 2016.