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Randy Russell & Roberta Johnson Windows to the Universe, UCAR & NESTA

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A Model for Teacher Professional Development Workshops Radiation Storm vs. The Magnetic Shield: Superheroes of Magnetism & Space Weather Education. Randy Russell & Roberta Johnson Windows to the Universe, UCAR & NESTA. History. Funding from space weather projects

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A Model for Teacher Professional Development WorkshopsRadiation Storm vs. The Magnetic Shield: Superheroes of Magnetism& Space Weather Education

Randy Russell & Roberta Johnson

Windows to the Universe, UCAR & NESTA

  • Funding from space weather projects
  • Existing magnetism activities
  • Developed new Space Weather & Magnetism workshop (2003?)
  • Presented numerous times (typically 4/year) in various forms at various venues (mostly NSTA, also AGU GIFT, B-STARS, MacGuyver, etc.)
  • Lots of refinements along the way - Lessons Learned!!!
workshop plan
Workshop Plan
  • Overview of Lessons Learned
  • Whirlwind tour of the workshop as presented - concrete examples of what we’ve learned
  • Hands-on activities - large part of what teachers want - and makes it memorable!
shotgun wedding
Shotgun Wedding?
  • Space weather is obscure for many K-12 teachers (where does this fit in my district's mandated curriculum? state's standardized tests?)
  • Magnetism is a key physical science topic (not so much in Earth/space science) - but sometimes viewed as mundane
  • Merge glamour of space weather (space/astronomy is cool; great images of Sun, aurora; danger of "radiation storms", threats to astronauts and/or to stuff "of interest to me" like disruptions to cell phone service, GPS locators, electrical power supply) with need to have some basic understanding of magnetism and fields (especially intuitive sense of what a 3D magnetic field looks like) to comprehend space weather
  • Make the connections very direct and obvious (side-by-side images of iron filings around magnets and Earth dipole field and coronal loops on Sun)
identify overlap teacher needs science topics
Identify Overlap: Teacher Needs & Science Topics


Solar Activity

Images of Sun

EM Spectrum

Dipoles & Complex

Magnetic Fields

Process & Tools

of Science

Particle & EM


Plate Tectonics (?)


Size Scale of

Solar System (?)

Societal Impacts

hands on activities content
Hands-on Activities + Content
  • combine INEXPENSIVE hands-on activities with content presentation
  • most teachers (or at least audiences; individuals may lean more one way or another) are very interested in both "ready to use Monday" activities AND in enhancing their own content expertise
make it easy for teachers
Make it Easy for Teachers
  • make it very easy for teachers to get resources (images, movies, background info web pages) used/displayed in workshops for their use in classroom
  • don't just say "do a Goggle search”
  • workshop web pages
tell a story with pictures
Tell a Story (with pictures!)
  • space weather, magnetism, and geomagnetism "story" presentation during workshop
  • make it "sexy" with great multispectral Sun images, animations of CMEs (but make sure to explain), aurora (from Earth, Earth orbit; on other planets)
  • tie in other things that K-12 teachers teach (size scale of Solar System in CME model animation; geomagnetism role in plate tectonics) - don’t shy away from “off-topic” content
consumer reports reviews
Consumer Reports/Reviews
  • I've had eyes open and found lots of cool magnetism toys, demo objects, educational aids
  • show them to teachers, tell them where from and what cost, "consumer reports" style review
  • let them decide if they are interested, fits their budget, has a place in their lessons, etc.
  • expose them to stuff on magnetism theme that they might not find themselves
address appropriate age s
Address Appropriate Age(s)
  • K-12 is NOT just one group!
  • this approach seems to sit reasonably well with a broad age range (of students/grades taught) of teachers
  • make sure to directly address
    • with younger kids: use paperclips instead of pins, build the Terrabaggas yourself
    • with older students: explain more complex extensions, quantitative elements, be ready to give strong answers to in-depth questions
various versions of workshop
Various Versions of Workshop
  • various duration versions of workshop
  • usually 1 hr, sometimes longer
  • maglev and consumer report now only included in longer versions
  • flexibility to plug in nearly the same workshop in various senarios (B-STARS, AGU GIFT, NSTAs, etc.) but usually with some "twist" to tune it to specific audience (Mexico mine/ore maps for B-STARS & Roberta/Becca/Marina trip to Mexico).
  • MacGuyver magnetometer
  • multiple sets of workshop kit
    • sometimes cycle of shipping back from one NSTA regional and on to next is too quick turnaround
  • cross-training staff