Stimulating Student’s Understanding of STEM-Related Career Opportunities Using Authentic Applications of NASA Data. Engaging the Next Generation by Showing Them How to Collect, Analyze, and Evaluate Data from NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission.

Friday, 11 December 2020
Dorian Wood Janney, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY, United States
All life relies on the availability of water. Knowing when, where, and how much it rains or snows is vital to understanding how weather and climate impact our environment and human society. The movement of water and energy around Earth affects agriculture, fresh water availability, and the occurrence of natural disasters. In many parts of the world, rain is the only source of water for both drinking water and agriculture.

NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement is an international satellite mission that uses multiple satellites orbiting Earth to collect rain, snow and other precipitation data worldwide every three hours. On February 27th, 2014, NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched a Core Observatory satellite carrying advanced instruments that improve our precipitation-measuring capabilities and bring all the data from the partner satellites into a unified global dataset.

Recently, the GPM Outreach team put together a series of lesson plans, aligned with NGSS to aid students to better understand STEM careers as well as the applications of NASA data to improve life on Earth. They learn about freshwater resources and how NASA’s Earth observing satellites are helping us better understand our water availability. Students work in small “expert groups” to explore growing wheat, the differences in weather and climate in two wheat farming regions, Pakistan and Kansas, and the scarcity of freshwater resources in Pakistan. Using this information, students collaborate in “project teams” and work with NASA data from the GPM mission to explore the amount of precipitation that has fallen in these two regions over the past two decades. They make recommendations for how farmers in Pakistan could reduce their water usage based on the work that is being done by Faisal Hossain. Finally, they consider ways they can reduce their use of freshwater resources in their own lives.

During this session, participants will learn about the development of the lesson plans as well as be guided through an exploration of the lesson components. This lesson was piloted virtually with 7th grade students when they switched to virtual instruction in the spring of 2020. Best practices and lessons learned for using these resources virtually will be shared.