Bob Mackay

Physics and Meteorology

Clark College

Bob MacKay is a professor in the physics and meteorology departments at Clark College in Vancouver, WA, teaching courses in introductory physics, physical science, and meteorology.    He also teaches courses in environmental modeling and Earth’s climate for Washington State University (Vancouver).   His past research interests include climate modeling and understanding the dynamic connections between atmospheric chemistry and climate change.  Over his 30 year science education career he has developed many interactive learning experiences for his science students.  Recently he has been exploring online delivery through hybrid courses using a format of face to face lab and online “lecture”.

Materials Contributed through SERC-hosted Projects

Activities (17)

Earth's Radiation Budget: Part 1 part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Teaching with Data:Examples
In this activity students explore the Earth's radiation budget using Earth radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) data archived at the IRI/LDEO Climate Data Library (more info) . This archive is complete with visualization tools for easy assessment and visualization of large data sets. Students also use photometers and light sources to work through several hands-on activities related to basic radiation concepts.

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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Gold Star Panel Review This activity received a gold star rating from a Panel Peer Review.
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The Modern Atmospheric CO2 Record part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Teaching with Data:Examples
Students compare carbon dioxide (CO2) data from Mauna Loa Observatory , Barrow (Alaska) , and the South Pole over the past 40 years to help them better understand what controls atmospheric (CO2). This activity makes extensive use of Excel.

Gold Star Panel Review This activity received a gold star rating from a Panel Peer Review.
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Global Temperatures part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Teaching with Data:Examples
Students analyze the global temperature record from 1867 to the present. Long-term trends and shorter-term fluctuations are both evaluated. The data is examined for evidence of the impact of natural and anthropogenic climate forcing mechanisms on the global surface temperature variability

On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Collection This activity is part of the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Activities collection.
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Gold Star Panel Review This activity received a gold star rating from a Panel Peer Review.
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CLEAN Selected This activity has been selected for inclusion in the CLEAN collection.
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Water Bucket lab activity part of Cutting Edge:Complex Systems:Teaching Activities
Online lab activity to explore the generic structure of a leaky water tank. Time delay and equilibrium are introduced.

Atmospheric methyl chloroform: a leaky water tank example part of Cutting Edge:Complex Systems:Teaching Activities
Atmospheric methyl chloroform concentration is modeled as an extension of the generic water tank structure. Simulated and observed concentrations are used to estimate the global atmospheric lifetime of methyl chloroform and its 1989 to 2009 emission history.


Using Mass Balance to Understand Atmospheric CFCs part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Teaching with Data:Examples
Students use an interactive online mass balance model to help understand the observed levels of chlorofluorocarbon CFC-12 over the recent past. They then explore the influence of post Montreal Protocol emission scenarios on future CFC levels and discuss the relevance of this to stratospheric ozone recovery.

Daisyworld: Interactive On-line PC and Mac part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Mathematical and Statistical Models:Mathematical and Statistical Models Examples
Students use a JAVA interface design by R.M. MacKay to explore the Daisy World model described by Mike Barnsley of the Department of Geography, University of Wales Swansea, Singleton Park, Swansea, SA2 8PP (see resources) . The JAVA interface comes with a link to a student activity page in PDF format. The following is a direct excerpt from University of Wales model description. "The Daisy World model is intended to illustrate a mechanism through which - according to the Gaian hypothesis - biota might optimize their abiotic environment by means of negative feedback. The model does not attempt to describe all of the possible mechanisms and feedbacks which might influence the ways in which the plants and climate develop. Instead, it is an heuristic model - one that seeks to describe the ways in which this mechanism might work. The original model was developed by Watson and Lovelock (1983)."

Stratospheric Ozone part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Teaching with Data:Examples
Animations clips from NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio are used to help guide students through an introductory tutorial on stratospheric ozone. Students then explore observational data from ozone-sondes, TOMS, and UARS measurements to learn about changes in stratospheric ozone over the past several decades. Measurements and model predictions are also used to help students understand future stratospheric ozone recovery scenarios.

Wind Surge: Interactive On-line Mac and PC part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Mathematical and Statistical Models:Mathematical and Statistical Models Examples
Wind surge (more info) is a JAVA based applet for exploring how water level on the windward and leeward side of a basin depends on wind speed, basin length, water depth, and boundary type. Theoretical discussion is provided.

Water Quality-Total Dissolved Solids part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Teaching with Data:Examples
Students use a microcomputer connected to a conductivity probe to measure the total dissolved solids in local area water samples. Students then compare their measurements with others in their class as well as other standard measurements.

Sun Spot Analysis part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Teaching with Data:Examples
Introductory students use Excel to graph monthly mean Greenwich sunspot numbers from 1749 to 2004 and perform a spectral analysis of the data using the free software program "Spectra". Short answer and thought questions related to the graphical data are asked throughout the assignment.

Using a Mass Balance Model to Understand Carbon Dioxide and its Connection to Global Warming part of Quantitative Skills:Activity Collection
Students explore the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide over the past 40 years with an interactive on-line model. They use the model and observations to estimate present emission rates and emission growth rates. The model is then used to estimate future levels of carbon dioxide using different future emission scenarios. These different scenarios are then linked by students to climate model predictions of the IPCC.

Energy Balance Game part of Integrate:Workshops:Teaching the Methods of Geoscience:Activities
This online game activity introduces students to Earth's radiative energy balance. It also explores the use of a simple climate model in the attribution of climate change.

Ocean Circulation part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Teaching with Data:Examples
Students view and analyze buoy, satellite, temperature vs depth data to learn about ocean circulation and how it is related to atmospheric circulation.

Comparing Sunscreens part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Teaching with Data:Examples
Students use a microcomputer connected to an ultra-violet sensor to compare the relative blocking power of different SPF sunscreens for the UVB region of the solar spectrum.

Where is North? part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Teaching with Data:Examples
Students use a microcomputer connected to a magnetic field sensor to measure the magnitude and direction of their local Earth's magnetic field . -

Reflection and Absorption of Light part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Teaching with Data:Examples
Students use a microcomputer connected to a light sensor and temperature probe to explore the reflection and absorption of radiation for different surfaces. Students follow instructions in this guided inquiry based lab and are then asked to design an experiment of their own to either test the reflectivity of sand, soils, water and other materials or to investigate the effect of different surface textures on reflectivity.

Course

Global Climate Change and Earth History part of Integrate:Workshops:Teaching the Methods of Geoscience:Course
This course introduces students to Global Change Science through lecture presentations, classroom discussions, assigned readings, and activities designed specifically to complement lecture topics. The course is designed to increase student understanding and appreciation of Earth as an evolving ecosystem.

Teaching Method Modules (2)

Teaching With Models part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Models
Created by Bob MacKay, Clark College "Scientific practice involves the construction, validation and application of scientific models, so science instruction should be designed to engage students in making and ...

Teaching With Data part of Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience:Teaching with Data
Created by Robert MacKay, Clark College All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) What is Teaching with data? Any learning process that ...

Essays (2)

Using models in geoscience part of Integrate:Workshops:Teaching the Methods of Geoscience:Essays
Using models in geoscience Bob Mackay, Physics & Meteorology, Clark College and Washington State University My geoscience career started over 30 years ago in solid earth geophysics, has touched on physical ...

Perspective on Complex Systems part of Cutting Edge:Complex Systems:Workshop 2010:Participant Essays
Bob MacKay, Clark College and Washington State University This essay begins with a brief description of my background in teaching, followed by my view of the important building blocks required for student ...


Events and Communities

Ocean System 2005 Participants

Developing Student Understanding of Complex Systems in the Geosciences Participants

Developing Pathways to Strong Departments for the Future Participants

Climate Workshop: Leader

Teaching About Earth's Climate Using Data and Numerical Models Participants: Presenter

Quantitative Skills 2004 Participants