Expanding the Use of Models as Educational Tools in the Atmospheric & Related Sciences
July 10 – 14, 2006 in Boulder, Colorado





With an agenda featuring many enthusiastic presenters, and topics of interest to a broad audience, this summer’s Users Workshop was deemed a huge success from workshop evaluations collected from participants.  Maybe it was the fact that we had over 80 people registered, breaking all attendance records through the years of this triennial event.  Maybe it was the Graduate students’ participation that brought a fresh perspective to the event, or perhaps it was the hands-on computer labs, which allowed participants to work along with presenters as they delivered their lab presentations.  Regardless of the cause, there was a new feeling of excitement at the workshop that was invigorating!  Some new issues for Policy Committee, Users Committee, and UPC consideration surfaced during the workshop, especially during the panel discussion and wrap up on the final day, which was attended by over 50 participants.    There were informal round table discussions taking place during each lunch among students, sponsors, academicians and Unidata staff. 


Next Steps:


Typically, people get excited while attending a workshop only to return home to find an email backlog and other emergencies, with the result that the workshop becomes nothing but a faded memory.  We were asked by many participants, including the NSF Sponsor, to not let that happen with this workshop.   Many suggestions were made by several people, and we have tried to synthesize them into the following recommendations:


1) Faculty Residence Program – This idea was floated by two workshop participants, but gained momentum as it was discussed.


  ACTION: (from Panel Discussion):  we need to move forward and research the idea of curriculum materials to accompany presentations made during the workshop.  Interested faculty members would need to work with an instructional designer, summer salary, etc.  We need the final workshop summary to be completed prior to any NSF proposal.

  • COMET and Unidata should go to NSF and ask for money for time-release of faculty to be trained at UCAR for transformative learning to be these “champions.”  One possible action would be to submit a proposal that would provide support for summer residence program aimed at teaching improvement, to be conducted at Unidata and COMET. This could also develop collaboration between educators and professional course designers.
  • Provide the opportunity for faculty members to work with educational experts at the UPC, COMET and NCAR to develop educational modules, case studies and to strengthen software application knowledge through an effort like the “equipment awards” administered by the UPC.
    • Build “champions” for curriculum development and share with the community
    • What are the anticipated results?
    • Need to prioritize categories and topics to be covered for mutual needs
    • Assess impacts
    • MONEY???? Resource Implications????

2) Engage Graduate Student in a Unidata Governance.


When the original discussions took place to plan the workshop, it was suggested that some funding be set aside to invite graduate students.  The eight students who attended provided an enthusiastic voice in the workshop.  On numerous occasions, participants and organizers alike commented on the positive impact of the student presence.  The students met, and suggested that a graduate student representative be invited to join the User’s Committee.  There was enthusiastic support for this action on all levels, but nevertheless, some logistical considerations became apparent:

  • Selection process
  • Term length
  •   Student Conference Presentation at AMS Annual Meeting?
  • (quid pro quo)  What do they get?  What do we get?
  • What is the “take home message”?
  • How do we advertise for nominations, i.e., email address lists
  • Regional workshops could attract Grad Students if we had the right mechanism for advertising
  • Student could provide presentation at home institution on Unidata to spread the word
  • Student could provide valuable input on software, community and services




The workshop information is provided on a Web site (URL above) hosted at Unidata.  The Web site consists of the Agenda, Workshop Attendees, Presenters and Bios, and Presentations made during the workshop.  Scribes took notes to augment the presentations and other working documents, which are available to the Workshop Planning Committee for use when developing the paper to be submitted to the AMS Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS). 


White Paper developed by:

Gary Lackmann and Linda Miller