CloudSat

Mission Name:
CloudSat


Project Description:
CloudSat’s E/PO program goal is to promote better public understanding of the significant effects of clouds on Earth’s energy balance, climate and weather. Because weather affects people’s daily lives and clouds are familiar objects, CloudSat E/PO can use these starting points to develop a better understanding of the much more complex concepts such as climate change that are so topical yet not widely understood. From there, the program seeks to promote interest in STEM careers and in NASA’s Earth science missions. To accomplish this goal, CloudSat’s E/PO program provides quality hands-on inquiry-focused experiences for students and the public. The centerpiece of these efforts is a network of over a hundred schools from around the world actively engaged in collecting cloud and precipitation data, coincident with CloudSat overpasses of their school. This student data is available to CloudSat scientists conducting research using CloudSat data products, as well as to other student researchers conducting earth-science related research. The CloudSat Education Network (CEN) is a partner with the NASA-funded GLOBE program. In addition to the CloudSat Education Network, the CloudSat E/PO program has produced a variety of educational and public engagement products, inspired newspaper, magazine and other articles, given numerous conference presentations and hosted workshops around the world.


Lead Institutions:
Colorado State University
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
SUNY-Oneonta


Partnerships:
CloudSat E/PO supports STEM discipline through the development of the CloudSat Education Network (CEN), and by leveraging with the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) partnership. The CEN consists of 70 plus schools from 13 countries, with a handful of schools from 3rd world nations. Students’ work with CloudSat scientists by providing cloud observations from Earth’s surface and compare those with CloudSat’s radar data. Students communicate with scientists, and E/PO staff; conduct research with satellite data, learn about other cultures and make genuine scientific contributions to the mission. CloudSat provides equipment, materials, scientific expertise and constant mentoring to create a valuable two-way experience for students. All student cloud observation data automatically gets pushed to the GLOBE database for use by GLOBE scientists and other GLOBE schools. As all CEN schools are also GLOBE schools, it is imperative to maintain the goodwill and mutual respect for both networks as they continue to grow and evolve. What makes this partnership ideal is the overlapping objectives and goals to promote and foster education, science inquiry, scientific discovery, and climate literacy.


Metrics:
Additional metrics:
The CloudSat Education Network (CEN) consists of 70 plus schools from 13 countries, with a handful of schools from 3rd world nations


Effectiveness and Impact:
Evaluation findings and impact statements:
Below are the evaluation summary and findings: As indicated in the introductory section of this report, the central purpose of this evaluation was to identify strengths of the CloudSat E/PO program efforts and to offer recommendations for continued alignment of this project’s goals with those of NASA. This report provides many notable examples of positive developments resulting from the CloudSat E/PO program. Perhaps many were to be expected, but much evidence was collected over the past four months of review indicating the numbers of educators, students, scientists, and citizen scientists that have creatively and enthusiastically embraced the work of CloudSat. Many intriguing and touching stories have been discovered along the way and, fortunately, the CloudSat team has shared several of these with the evaluation team. The evaluation team offers several observations about the CloudSat E/PO team.

  • First, the E/PO teaming of educators and scientists has had many positive effects on schools, teachers, and students in diverse regions of the world, especially those where both parties directly observe and participate in science education programs in CEN locales. The few E/PO trips made to CEN sites have resulted in substantial impacts for both CloudSat E/PO and the participating schools and communities.

     

  • Second, the recent shift of CloudSat E/PO priorities to focus more attention and resources on enhancing the work of the high participating CEN schools and countries appears to be effective in encouraging continued participation. Several suggestions are offered in this report to expand this direction.
  • Third, the evaluation teams commends the E/PO team on the improvements made internally within recent years to further advance and communicate programmatic efforts (regularly scheduled E/PO team meetings, creation and use of the JPL, E/PO Quarterly Reporting Template, etc.).

The evaluation team also commends the important job done to communicate the work and outcomes of CloudSat activity via the Website and newsletter formats. Following, Figure 1 shows what the evaluation team has conceptualized as the relationships between participating scientists, students, and teachers that drive the enthusiasm of those involved in CloudSat E/PO efforts. The nurturing of these connections will enable the CloudSat E/PO to meet its self-stated mission

Based on the recommendations from the 2009 external review, CloudSat E/PO has not only increased the number of participating CEN schools through out the globe, but has also maintained many tier 1 reporting schools. E/PO staff advance communication in the CEN by maintaining quarterly meetings, and encouraging an open line of communication with schools. Mission and educational information is kept current via our main page and CEN website. The impact is evident in the continued flow of cloud observation data that students through out the globe report weekly.