Songer's grant, which she received in a White House ceremony on 23 February, provides five years of no-overhead funding totaling $500,000. What will Songer and her colleagues do with these funds? "We aren't sure yet; we're just getting started. We're looking at the educational potential of several emerging technologies, including virtual reality, 3-D imagery and professional conferencing software. We hope to explore ways in which these new tools, many of which are being used by professional scientists, can be adapted for classrooms leading to dramatic new opportunities for learning. It's very fun but it is also very difficult because there is no real plan."
Songer has had numerous interactions with UCAR. Her Kids as Global Scientists (KGS) program involves Boulder Valley middle school students in an eight-week session of tracking current global weather patterns using their school Internet access and data from UCAR's Unidata program. She has also been deeply involved in UCAR's Skymath Demonstration Project. With funding from NSF, Skymath is aimed at demonstrating the effectiveness of using real-time weather data to teach mathematics in middle schools. Songer was one of the advisors on the project, and now some KGS school sites are testing the newly developed Skymath teaching materials. For more information, contact Songer (firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-492-4914). Project information is available at http://stripe.colorado.edu/~kgshtml/Home.html.