Integrating Enhanced STEM Themes in the UTEP CAREERS Weather Camp for Youth

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Mariana Güereque1, John G Olgin1, Meredith W. Kier2, Cynthia E. Winston2, Rosa M Fitzgerald1 and Vernon Morris2, (1)University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, United States, (2)Howard University, Washington, DC, United States
The NOAA Center for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) sponsors a network of high school and middle school summer camps entitled “Channeling Atmospheric Research into Educational Experiences Reaching Students program, CAREERS”. These camps are conducted nationwide at NCAS academic partners; the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), Howard University (HU), University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM), and Jackson State University (JSU). The goals of these camps are to increase the interest of secondary school (HS) students in atmospheric and weather related sciences, target under-represented students, and to ultimately boost their college enrollment in STEM related fields. For 2014 at UTEP, the annual student-outreach weather camp program underwent a thematic overhaul that sought to incorporate more of the geological and environmental context of the region. Doctoral students were allowed to assume greater responsibility for the design, development and implementation of the camp activities. The prevailing assumption was that these Ph.D. students were better suited for peer mentoring, bridging the age and interest gap, and delivering the material through the modern technologies and modes of communication. The redesigned approach focused on the identification of climate drivers within the region and this concept formed a thread throughout the planning and design of the camp modules. The outcome resulted in the incorporation of project based learning (PBL) activities, field excursions, and deployment of weather instrumentation, for explaining regional climate processes and events. Standardized surveys were administered to camp participants to evaluate the efficacy, as well as student perceptions of the camp and its activities. Results will be presented that are based on qualitative and quantitative analysis of student responses.