Project-Based Learning, Surface Energy Balance, and Establishment of a New Undergraduate Weather Station
Journal of Geoscience education
Through collaborative and individual projects in two upper level courses, undergraduate students established a new surface environmental observation station (Austin College Weather Station). In addition to standard meteorological observations, the Austin College Weather Station detects radiation and soil measurements. These additional measurements are used to calculate the local surface energy balance, an important indicator of local climate system interactions. The weather station projects
... tation projects provided excellent opportunities for students to participate actively in the scientific process. The first phase involved establishment of the weather station. In this semester-long collaborative project, students engaged in all aspects of scientific field research, including planning, testing, implementation, data collection, analysis, and evaluation. They became experts on two weather station instruments. The second phase involved calibration and validation of the Austin College Weather Station. These 7-week individual projects required student research proposals, research papers, and peer review. Student learning outcomes included both scientific content and scientific process. Many innovative assessment tools were utilized, including proposal writing, peer review, group meetings, research presentations, research papers, and a faculty review panel. These courses both received strong marks from students for promoting critical thinking and teaching effectiveness. Perhaps most importantly, students had fun participating in these research projects with real-world applications.