Teaching atmosphere, ocean, and planetary fluid dynamic fundamentals vividly with rotating tanks

Thursday, Friday 8:30am-11:30am Tate 170


Spencer Hill, Princeton University
Jonathan Aurnou, University of California-Los Angeles
Alex Gonzalez, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Juan Lora, Yale University
Jordyn E Moscoso, University of California-Santa Cruz
Indrani Ganguly, Iowa State University

Participants will each receive a hands-on, do-it-yourself rotating fluid dynamics kit (https://diynamics.github.io). The workshop will convey how to build and modify this kit; how to use it to teach fundamental concepts on ocean, atmosphere and climate processes; and discuss how best to adapt these kits to the needs of different learning environments.

Check out our promotional video directly below and/or keep reading this page for more information!

Workshop slides and handouts PDFs

EER-workshop-slides.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 8MB Jul15 22)

EER_Worksheets_combined.pdf (Acrobat (PDF) 1.8MB Aug19 22)


The dynamics of weather, oceanographic and climate processes are often difficult for students (and teachers!) to conceptualize. In this two day workshop, participants will gain hands-on knowledge using simple rotating tank experiments (the Do-It-Yourself Dynamics, or DIYnamics, kit) to create vivid, lively, small scale models of these geophysical fluid systems. Background will be provided on the fundamental natural processes and how to teach these concepts using rotating tank experiments; hands-on "shop class" sessions on assembling and operating the DIYnamics Kits; live demonstrations of key experiments and with further discussion of the concepts they convey; interactive brainstorming sessions about adapting the materials into participants' own classrooms; and discussion sections for sharing best practices, concerns, and support to one another.

Workshop Program »

Target Audience

We invite science instructors from the high school through graduate university levels. At the high school level, these demonstrations are great for Environmental Science courses as well as physics courses. At the college level, they are useful in courses on weather, climate, oceanography, and geophysical fluid dynamics, all from the introductory, general-education-course level to advanced graduate levels. Each participant will be given a complete rotating tank platform to subsequently use in their own teaching, enabling their use regardless of the availability of resources/funds at their home institution.


  • Learn what rotating tank demonstrations are and why they are powerful tools for teaching about weather, climate, oceanography, and planetary fluid motions
  • Practice performing a core set of demonstrations: solid-body rotation and mechanical stirring, as well as a third selected among an array of options
  • Plan how these demonstrations can be optimally incorporated into your teaching, given student needs, curricular requirements, and other relevant factors
  • Connect with a diverse cohort of instructors using rotating tanks and learn about available resources to sustain your teaching with rotating tanks beyond the workshop


This workshop will include a mixture of presentations, hands-on sessions, live demonstrations, and interactive discussions. Presentations will introduce the core underlying scientific and pedagogical concepts. In hands-on sessions, each participant will set-up the rotating tank platform and use it to practice the demonstrations themselves, with workshop conveners circulating to provide assistance and feedback.  In discussion sessions, participants will be able to share what aspects they find challenging, how they envision adapting the materials to their own teaching setting, and brainstorm on how to integrate the demonstrations into existing curricular requirements, standards, etc.



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