Student Experiential Learning in Global Climate Change

In this summer program, teams of undergraduate and high school students, working together, learn basic scientific concepts about the earth's climate, processes behind climate change and its implication on the life on earth. We use NASA Earth Observation Satellite data and conduct real time measurements of area microclimates, which are then analyzed and compared with NASA's Earth system models. We also discuss scientific papers on global climate change, its economic consequences and impacts on the world. We follow a real-time and hands on learning process in order to make the experience personal for each student.

The student experience begins with a trip to the WPVI TV (Channel 6), Philadelphia to learn about processing and reporting of weather data from a meteorologist and reporters. The students then collect radiometric data at a series of locations with their hand assembled Brook's radiometers and compare that data with data from EPPLY Pyranometers, Funk radiometers, hand held radiometers, and Hobo weather stations. At the same time they track temperature (air, ground, and black and white bodies), relative humidity (psychrometer), air speed and direction, and cloudiness. They collect identical data at the Drexel University main campus in Philadelphia (heat island effect), and areas outside of the city: Valley Forge National Park, John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge and in the forest, field and on the Atlantic costal waters off the university's Barnegat Bay field station in Waretown, NJ. The students compile and compare collected data using statistical methods, and then, compare those data with NASA's Earth Observation dataset. In this way, students will understand present and historic climatic characteristics of the Northeast coastal systems, and compare them to the rest of the United States and the rest of the world. Finally, the students develop their independent interpretation of the data and prediction by adding a variety of additional information, such as water and soil chemistry, chlorophyll reflectance, distribution of ice sheets and potable water, economic changes, possible mitigation and remediation of the perils of climate change, etc. We envision that students will gain a better understanding of Earth's climate system, and tools to spread the knowledge they have acquired.