GEAR UP 2006

Summer Institute

As part of JISAO's ongoing K-12 educational activities, JISAO researchers and graduate students participated in the University of Washington's GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) Summer Institute Project. The Summer Institute brings middle school students from around the state of Washington to campus each summer for a college immersion experience.

JISAO scientist Todd Mitchell, postdoc Meredith Hastings, and graduate students Joe Casola, Kevin Rennert and Justin Wettstein taught two courses on local weather and global climate at the 2006 Summer Institute. They demonstrated the importance of pressure forces in weather dynamics using two simple experiments, can crushing and cloud in a bottle. GEAR UP students were also called upon to help illustrate examples of high and low pressure. After a discussion of the weather measurements used by meteorologists, students were taken to the roof of the Atmospheric Sciences building to observe the different instruments used in weather forecasting.

Students returned to the class room and were led in a discussion on local and global weather patterns and the connection between weather and climate. Examples of annual precipitation in the state, temperature measurements taken from the students' hometowns, and satellite pictures were used to discuss the orographic effects on precipitation patterns and local summer climatology.

The lesson was rounded out with a focus on the record of climate change including a discussion on climate proxies and how scientists can measure climate change on a variety of timescales. Examples were used to demonstrate how the northern hemisphere was different at the last glacial maximum, approximately 20,000 years ago.