Understanding Weather Extremes with Big Data: Inspiring Rural Youth in Data Science (WeatherX)
As scientific discovery becomes ever more data-driven, there is a critical need to build a scientific workforce with robust skills in scientific modeling and large-scale data analysis. Nowhere is the need to strengthen learning opportunities greater than in rural areas, where a majority of the nation's school districts reside and where under-investment persists. The "WeatherX" project uses the data visualization tool Common Online Data Analysis Platform (CODAP), as well as large-scale data from the Mount Washington Observatory (MWO) and the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) to conduct investigations into "normal" and "extreme" weather to promote skills in analyzing scientific data and interest in data science careers among middle school students in rural areas. These local and regional data investigations are supplemented with multiple community-based resources, including a "Chat With a Scientist" opportunity, where classrooms virtually connect with and interview MWO Weather Observers who work on the summit of Mount Washington. Students who have opportunities to interact with scientists, such as those who work on Mount Washington, may develop insights into what it means to do science professionally and expand views of who can be a scientist. Preliminary findings from student and teacher surveys show successes with the use of locally-relevant resources, live connections with scientists at MWO and the production and use of curriculum-driven videos and multimedia.