UCAR Education and Outreach
Strategic Plan 2001–2006

Serving UCAR, NCAR, and UOP
(June 29, 2001)


i. Introduction
1.0 Background
2.0 Mission, Vision, and Values
3.0 Goals, and Objectives
4.0 Priorities for Implementing the Plan

A. Appendix

i. Introduction

In July of 2000, UCAR initiated a strategic planning process to develop a unified education and outreach plan for the institution as a whole, spanning the interests of UCAR, NCAR, and UOP. A planning committee was established, chaired by Roberta Johnson, the new director of the Office of Education and Outreach (E&O). In developing the committee's membership (see Table 1), we strove to recruit representatives from programs that currently play a significant role in education and outreach in the institution. Committee members brought knowledge to the table about sponsored programs, such as the Advanced Study Program (ASP), the Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education and Training (COMET), the Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE), the Laboratory Experience in Atmospheric Research at NCAR (LEARN) program, and the Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science (SOARS) program, as well as the indirectly funded programs of the Office of Development and Government Affairs and UCAR Communications. Together, these individuals provided expert perspectives on program development, content, and public outreach for the institution as a whole. A series of strategic planning meetings was initiated in order to develop a mission, vision, and set of values for the institution’s integrated education and outreach effort, as well as to set specific goals and objectives by which the mission, vision, and values will be realized. This strategic plan is the product of the committee's deliberations.

Table 1. Education and Outreach
Strategic Planning Committee

Richard Anthes (President's Office)
William (Al) Cooper (ASP)
Stephen Dickson (Director's Office)
Susan Foster (E&O)
Robert Harriss (ESIG)
Elisabeth Holland (ACD)
Karon Kelly (DLESE)
Timothy Killeen (Director's Office)
Roberta Johnson (E&O), chair
Joseph Lamos (COMET)
Margaret LeMone (MMM)
Mary Marlino (DLESE)
Cynthia Schmidt (Government Affairs)
Kathryn Schmoll (F&A)
Timothy Spangler (COMET)
Lucy Warner (Communications)
Morris Weisman (MMM)
Thomas Windham (SOARS)

The plan has evolved in response to the recommendations and comments received from numerous reviewers, including members of UCAR's Board of Trustees and University Relations Committee, staff of the National Science Foundation, and several UCAR Member Representatives, American Meteorological Society (AMS) Heads and Chairs, and educators and scientists participating in NCAR's January 2001 Workshop on Earth System Education Partnerships with Research Institutions (see Appendix). All of these individuals have helped to strengthen the plan's potential to reach the institution's many constituencies.

Representatives from the UCAR community and experts in science education and outreach from within and beyond the community will be appointed to an advisory board to provide recommendations for plan implementation. A liaison from the UCAR Board of Trustees will also be identified.



1.0 Background

Over several decades, education and outreach programs have been developed by dedicated staff within UCAR, NCAR, and UOP (the institution, or UCAR) to disseminate information about the atmospheric and related sciences to students in K-12, undergraduate, and graduate schools, to postdoctoral students, and to the general public. Educational tours and exhibits are the hallmark of public outreach at the Mesa Laboratory, reaching tens of thousands of people every year and receiving the institution's baseline support on an ongoing basis. Programs with unique missions and audiences, such as ASP, COMET, DLESE, LEARN, and SOARS, have also significantly contributed to educational resources, training opportunities, and tools available to support the academic community from the middle school level through professional training.

When sponsored by direct support from funding agencies, these kinds of programs are periodically challenged to find a way to sustain themselves and ensure public access to their products once the initial funding vehicle has expired. Another challenge: As UCAR's numerous education and outreach activities have evolved, largely in separate divisions and programs, it has been unclear how they collectively support the larger-scale educational mission of the institution.

Recently, the role of academic institutions and national centers in education and outreach has become increasingly important. The National Science Foundation (NSF) now dedicates extensive financial resources to the development, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of educational resources that enrich students' understanding of the sciences and enhance the scientific literacy of the nation. NSF also recognizes that education and outreach programs are better able to reach all Americans when these programs embed strategies specifically designed to include persons and communities that historically have been underrepresented in science, engineering, and mathematics.

A nearly uniform voice has simultaneously emerged from the educational community to reinforce this message. In discussions with and surveys of colleagues in UCAR's member and affiliate institutions, UCAR has been asked to consider mechanisms by which the institution can support the educational missions of the universities, both for current students and in the recruitment of new students at the undergraduate and graduate level. Participants in a recent workshop at NCAR on Earth System Education Partnerships with Research Institutions specified priorities for action, including

  • the importance of support by research institutions for education activities
  • the need to facilitate the participation of scientists in education and policy
  • the need for a full-spectrum approach to enhancing informal and formal science education and public science literacy, from K-12 through postgraduate training.
  • the need to engage experts and professional partners in program development and research about learning, and
  • the importance of building integrated, interdisciplinary approaches to science education and outreach.

Therefore, it has become increasingly clear that an institution of UCAR's magnitude must have a coordinated education and outreach program that can serve UCAR members, the institution's professional staff, and the public. The scope of our education and outreach program addresses the needs of K-12 through postgraduate learners as well as formal and informal science education in a diverse nation. We accept this broad scope because of the severity of the problem the United States faces in engaging diverse students to prepare for future careers in the atmospheric and related sciences. It is likewise vital to increase the science literacy of all citizens so they can understand the implications of our community's research for their lives and future.

These problems are national in scope. A publicly funded institution such as ours, with a national mandate and mission in research, education, and service should contribute to solutions in ways appropriate for a national center. Through balanced efforts across these areas, UCAR will be able to contribute significantly to enhanced public literacy in our scientific field, while simultaneously working to increase the number and diversity of students selecting careers in atmospheric and related sciences. One of the primary motivations for increasing education and outreach activities is to enhance the communication of the many research accomplishments of NCAR and UOP to the broader professional and educational communities and the public. Our focus will be on those efforts that leverage our unique expertise in research, technology, and educational programming. Our activities should enhance the integration of scientific research and education and should support the UCAR community. In all of our programs, increasing the diversity of people participating in the atmospheric and related sciences is a high priority.

2.0 Mission, Vision, and Values

The planning committee defined a set of guiding principles for education and outreach (Table 2). The mission describes the overarching goal of the E&O program. In our vision statement, we describe the impact our program will have. The values statement presents the beliefs we hold as the foundation of our efforts in the implementation of this strategic plan.

Table 2. Mission, Vision, and Values for the Education and Outreach Program

In partnership with the university community, UCAR promotes scientific literacy and advances all levels of education and training in subjects related to Earth's atmosphere.

A successful education and outreach program at UCAR contributes significantly to creating an informed global community that lives responsibly with the atmosphere and the environment. UCAR, NCAR, and UOP effectively support expert communities of diverse scientific professionals who monitor weather and climate processes, enhance and integrate our understanding of them, and assess their impacts on society. Coordinated and expanded informal and formal education and outreach programs help to build a community of learners inspired to set off on a path of lifelong scientific learning.

Our education and outreach activities demonstrate our commitment to excellence, scientific accuracy, intellectual freedom, and objectivity. We are responsive to the educational needs of our broad university constituency and collaborate closely with that community to meet these needs. We respect the intellectual contributions of all partners in our endeavors and safeguard the rights of our partners in our collaborative projects. We are committed to universal access to knowledge through age-appropriate programs. We focus our activities on integrative learning across disciplines, with an emphasis on open, shared learning environments that are inquiry-based. Our activities promote creativity and innovation as they are developed and as they are disseminated to their users. Through all of our programs, we demonstrate respect for cultural and gender diversity, as well as for diversity of learning styles. Through our programs implemented with these values, we provide leadership within the scientific and educational communities.

3.0 Goals, and Objectives

After defining the mission, vision, and values for our education and outreach program, the strategic planning committee identified four goals that describe the program's essential elements (Table 3). Specific objectives will guide us in achieving these goals.

Goal 3.1: Create the institutional infrastructure and funding portfolio that will allow UCAR to have an effective education and outreach program.

UCAR will create a new Office of Education and Outreach that must be established on a strong institutional infrastructure and funding portfolio. The purpose of this office will be to build a bridge between scientific research and education and translate the institution's scientific accomplishments into effective education and outreach programs. The committee has identified seven objectives that will enable E&O to achieve this goal.

Table 3 Education and Outreach Goals

1. Institutionalize the UCAR Education and Outreach Program

Create the institutional infrastructure and funding portfolio that will allow UCAR to have an effective education and outreach program.

2. Support Students and Professionals: From Pre-K through Post Graduate Levels

Develop, deliver, and promote education resources for diverse audiences that enhance scientific literacy.

3. Foster an Informed Public through Science Literacy.

Develop and support inspiring programs about the atmospheric and related sciences that allow citizens to make informed decisions.

4. Build Diversity in the Geosciences.

Promote the involvement of diverse and historically underrepresented populations in the geosciences.

Objective 3.1.1: Optimize organizational structure
UCAR's Office of Education and Outreach will integrate staff from the Education and Tours Program, Informal Science Education, Exhibits, LEARN, the NCAR Science Store, SOARS, and Windows to the Universe. E&O will also seek ways to optimize its organizational structure by identifying and facilitating communication with all other education and outreach resources and programs currently dispersed within UCAR, NCAR, and UOP divisions and programs.

E&O will organize a portfolio of baseline services to support education and outreach activities across all of these entities as well as relevant programs in UCAR member and affiliate institutions. Opportunities will be explored to build diverse teams of people and programs both within and outside of E&O when there is mutual benefit to close association.

Several major education and outreach programs existing within NCAR and UOP (ASP, COMET, and DLESE) are well established, independently funded, and well known. There are no plans to locate these programs within E&O in the future. We will work with these programs to develop collaboration consonant with the goals and objectives described in this strategic plan.

Sharing administrative services and assets between E&O and external programs will be encouraged when it can bring improved economies of scale. When appropriate, E&O will facilitate collaboration among programs that have a mutual stake in audiences, scientific topics, funding opportunities, and other areas. In the interest of furthering the institution's education and outreach mission and sustaining successful programs, E&O will develop a process for prioritizing the use of limited and essential human and financial resources.

Managers of UCAR, NCAR, and UOP should identify the education and outreach programs with which they have close affiliation. E&O will develop mechanisms for representing, tracking, highlighting, supporting, and reporting on elements of these education and outreach programs to the public and other interested constituencies.

Objective 3.1.2: Disseminate education and outreach activities to professional groups.
Scientists and educators at UCAR, NCAR, and UOP are frequent participants in professional meetings and workshops that promote science education and outreach. Those currently attended by E&O staff members include annual meetings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), American Astronomical Society (AAS), American Geophysical Union (AGU), American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), and the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). Information about education and outreach programs is disseminated in these venues from exhibit booths, by the presentation of papers and posters, and by word of mouth. Even so, larger and more diverse audiences can be reached by expanding this outreach to new professional groups and organizations serving populations of special interest, especially populations underrepresented in the atmospheric and related sciences. We will strategically evaluate the range of professional meetings that can optimize our outreach efforts and assess our commitment to support staff, exhibits, publications, and programs in these settings.

Objective 3.1.3: Develop local, national, and international partnerships.
UCAR's extensive community of members and affiliates and the collaborative programs within the institution provide a rich network through which partnerships can be forged to enhance science education, science literacy, and diversity programs. UCAR's Office of Education and Outreach will build upon existing partnerships with external organizations with the goal of strengthening them. E&O will also extend collaborations to selected additional organizations committed to science education. Examples of groups of interest include, but are not limited to, AAAS, AAS, AGU, AISES, AMS, the Association of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists (MAES), the Association of Science and Technology Centers, land-grant university cooperative extension programs, NSTA, the NASA Office of Space Science Minority Initiative, the NASA Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, SACNAS, the Society of Black Engineers, and the World Meteorological Organization. Partnerships with organizations such as these have excellent potential for building training networks for professionals, for students from K-12 through graduate school, for teachers working in rural and urban environments, and for populations underrepresented in the atmospheric and related sciences.

Collaboration with science centers and museums can provide outlets to diverse audiences for program content and products. Reciprocally, new Mesa Lab exhibits may be inspired as a result of close associations with museums; once unveiled, the exhibits may be hosted in the galleries of partnering institutions. E&O will also partner with UCAR Communications to enhance contacts with and messages to the media.

A largely unexplored frontier for building partnerships lies in the vast commercial education, science, and technology sectors. In order to prosper, our education and outreach efforts will need to find common interests with corporations and foundations demonstrating commitment to the societal benefits of atmospheric and earth-system research and education. There are also opportunities for partnerships in communities that have been historically denied access to science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education and employment opportunities. In order to successfully reach our diversity goal, we will need to identify and effectively communicate common interests with these communities.

Objective 3.1.4: Create a database of education and outreach contacts and programs
Collaboration, partnership, education, and outreach efforts will require efficient access to information about a large number of individuals, agencies, and organizations. E&O will build and expand upon the institution's current local, regional, national, and international connections with institutions, industry, and information media that focus on scientific research, education, and outreach in order to establish a central database. The database will provide the institution and the UCAR community with a means for locating and working with others. It will serve as a tool for broadcasting information about our programs and products to target audiences. The database will also be valuable in building the collaboration necessary for developing grant proposals.

Objective 3.1.5: Provide E&O project development services to UCAR, NCAR, UOP, and the UCAR community.
An increasing number of funding opportunities (from NSF, NASA, and other agencies) require or recommend education and outreach components, either integrated within the body of scientific research proposals or added as a supplement to them. In many cases, the funds available for these education and outreach components are not large, yet considerable work can be entailed in defining a plan, especially for a principal investigator (PI) who may not be familiar with education and outreach issues and opportunities.

E&O will develop a suite of project descriptions that support UCAR's education and outreach efforts, such as professional development for K-12 educators, content module development, and Web outreach. Examples of supplementary budgets and other commonly required proposal materials will also be available. E&O will offer consultations with PIs within the institution and with faculty at UCAR member and affiliate institutions to help develop education and outreach plans based on this suite of possibilities. The program descriptions thus developed can then be tailored to specific scientific proposals, providing leverage to obtain support for ongoing education and outreach programs while simultaneously meeting the needs of scientists. In this way, E&O will help the institution respond to sponsor requirements in a cost-effective, highly leveraged way. E&O will also submit proposals directly through its administrative structure for PIs interested in educational initiatives.

Objective 3.1.6: Reward scientists who support education and outreach
Many UCAR, NCAR, and UOP staff members have shown commitment to scientific education and outreach through their participation in activities and programs. Such participation is specifically mentioned in the qualifications for scientists to advance to higher levels on the scientific ladder. Nevertheless, participation in education and outreach activities by scientists has, at times, been discouraged within the organization. E&O will work with the institution's management and staff to develop an environment that fosters bridging between science and education. To succeed, a system will need to be developed and formalized that recognizes and rewards scientists who dedicate a portion of their time to education and outreach activities. Achievements in education and outreach must become a sanctioned part of the annual merit review and promotion process for scientists. To offset the financial burden placed on programs and divisions when scientists support education and outreach, E&O will seek resources to cover scientists' time, possibly including sabbatical opportunities.

Since many scientists have little experience communicating with nontechnical or K-12 audiences, E&O will offer training and workshops for scientists interested in improving their education and outreach skills. We will develop the resource staff needed to support scientists as they transfer the results of research to educational media. We will survey, catalog, and make available methods and materials for hands-on experiments scientists may use to demonstrate basic concepts to their audiences. We will also assess the capacity of scientific staff to participate in education and outreach activities, given their other obligations.

Objective 3.1.7: Identify areas where lack of expertise hampers our efforts to accomplish the goals of the education and outreach program
As a component of our effort to develop the staff necessary to achieve our education and outreach goals, E&O will survey the expertise of our personnel and identify areas where future strategic hires may be desirable. In the formation of E&O, staff members who are transferred into the new office from other locations in the institution will be encouraged to share their expertise across programs. They will also be urged to draw upon the ideas and experiences of their colleagues as they manage and enhance education and outreach programs for which they are responsible.

Program evaluation is an ongoing and necessary challenge. Therefore we will strengthen E&O's staff expertise, engage the customers that use our products, and/or contract the services needed to advance our understanding of how our programs affect learning and pedagogy. Of particular interest are questions about how people of diverse ages and backgrounds learn about complex and frequently interdisciplinary concepts (e.g., climate change). We will investigate how users experience Web sites and distance learning programs offering satellite and radar images, computer models, graphic animations, and visualizations of data.

Goal 3.2: Develop, deliver, and promote educational resources that enhance scientific literacy.


Our institution has a respected record of developing and delivering educational resources and training. Through the LEARN program, we developed excellent educational materials for middle school students, as well as the teacher training workshops needed to make use of these materials in the classroom. Contributions from Friends of UCAR have supported the development of Mesa Lab exhibits, Super Science Saturday, the Weather Trail, and Web Weather for Kids. Science Now, produced by the Office of Development and Government Affairs and published online by Mandarin SIRS Corporation, describes NCAR's scientific research to K-12 teachers. Similarly, COMET is known for the excellence of its training and distance-learning resources offered to professional meteorologists. ASP provides an opportunity for highly qualified graduate and postdoctoral students to engage in research at NCAR and UOP, enriched by training opportunities designed to support them in building their careers. Specifically, ASP sponsors educational seminars and conducts an annual graduate-student colloquium that reviews recent research developments in emerging areas of research.

In this goal, the strategic planning committee seeks to define the scope and focus needed to support formal educational efforts in the atmospheric and related sciences. Our intent is to build on UCAR's scientific, technical, and programmatic expertise to create multipurpose content modules, computer-based learning and content-delivery mechanisms, and professional development opportunities for K-12 educators, university faculty, and meteorologists. The committee has identified three objectives through which E&O will accomplish this goal.

Objective 3.2.1: Produce and support implementation of content that builds a foundation for understanding the atmospheric and related sciences.
UCAR should put more educational materials on-line that support the goals of universities and other organizations. The first step in this process will be to survey existing materials that can be included (with appropriate permissions) on the UCAR education and outreach Web site. Care will be taken to locate materials that demonstrate both sound instruction and science. E&O's interests focus not only on instructional materials, but also on the hands-on, inquiry-based activities that support the educational community in meeting national science education standards. In this effort, we will work with the DLESE community, which has as one of its objectives to identify and improve access to high-quality educational resources for the geosciences.

As a result of this survey, E&O will identify subject areas and grade levels where good materials are lacking and original science content is needed. The office will channel future content development efforts in these areas, to ensure that we are not duplicating the good work of others. Areas already identified by representatives of UCAR member universities and the AMS Heads and Chairs are the development and utilization of instrumentation and the analysis and visualization of data obtained through its use.

E&O will ensure that the UCAR education and outreach Web site serves as an educational portal for the atmospheric and related sciences by linking to reviewed education and training resources. The Web site will also provide for the management and preservation of intellectual property rights of those who have originated useful concepts and materials.

Over time, E&O will update and improve access to educational resource materials by working with programs it directly administers (e.g., Windows to the Universe, Web Weather for Kids) and by developing partnerships, including collaborations with other UCAR, NCAR, and UOP programs; the UCAR community, professional societies and organizations; and external funding agencies. Such partnerships may focus on creating content modules and interactive, inquiry-based activities that cover the full range of the atmospheric and related sciences. In these efforts, E&O will build upon our expertise in the delivery of educational resources through the Web and other computer technologies.

The content of these new resources should be provided both as complete, self-contained modules and as discrete learning objects. This structure will allow college and university faculty and K-12 teachers the greatest flexibility as they design unique courses for their students. In some cases, faculty may wish to implement entire modules (for example, on climate change), while in others they may choose just one interactive component that demonstrates a physical principle included in their courses.

In addition to modules and learning objects, our library of educational resources will also contain tools and documented techniques for assisting faculty in applying and implementing the available resource materials. We have also been asked to develop a Web page listing opportunities for study, research, and employment in the atmospheric and related sciences for undergraduate through postgraduate students.

A course-development facility could be created at UCAR to offer the full range or a selection of these services and resources to university and K-12 faculty for use in their courses and classrooms. E&O will investigate this possibility further, in collaboration with DLESE and funding agencies, to ensure that the needs of our community are being met in ways that most efficiently build upon existing resources.

When the library of Web-based learning materials is sufficiently comprehensive, on-line distance-learning courses may be organized by E&O, with the collaboration and support of the UCAR community. These courses could be taken by individuals who want to acquire a broad knowledge of a particular subject. They could also be adapted by university faculty to support campus instruction, either in residence, or through distance-learning programs.

Objective 3.2.2: Train and support educators in the use of science content, activities, and technologies.
E&O will build upon UCAR's expertise in professional development by designing and implementing workshops that support K-12 and undergraduate educators. These workshops may focus on improving knowledge of the atmospheric and related sciences, facility with computer technology, and proficiency in addressing pedagogical issues. To involve the intended users of these services in their design, we will collaborate with the UCAR community, external funding agencies, and professional societies and organizations (such as AAAS, AISES, AMS, AGU, MAES, the National Earth Science Teachers Association-NESTA, NSTA, and SACNAS). We will seek to multiply the impact of our activities by enrolling pre-service teachers as well as experienced educators with strong track records training colleagues in their local communities.

Objective 3.2.3: Engage learners in the dynamic experience of science, including methods and research
Research has shown that one of the best ways to engage learners in science is by involving them directly in scientific research. Within our own institution, we have ample evidence of this effect. The SOARS program, for example, has been recognized by NSF and the U.S. Department of Energy as a model science and research mentoring program for undergraduate and graduate students from traditionally underserved populations.

develop opportunities for K-12, community college, and four-year college teachers and students to participate in research with NCAR and UOP scientists. A key element of this effort will be to develop a program of Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) at the institution to complement and support SOARS. This REU program may also bring NCAR and UOP scientists to college and university communities in an effort to reach as many students and faculty as possible.

There are many other opportunities to involve undergraduate and graduate students in the research programs at the institution. Frequent, short visits by graduate students during their research projects would establish connections to NCAR and UOP research projects and scientists. While NCAR supports some visits now, such a program could be beneficial to almost all graduate students, and might be especially encouraging to those from underrepresented groups.

Engagement in research will also be facilitated on a larger scale by extending opportunities for educators and students to obtain data. A broad spectrum of data could be used in classroom-based research projects or integrated into modules with specific educational applications. E&O will work with internal programs such as DLESE, COMET, the Scientific Computing Division's Visualization Laboratory, and Unidata to build upon the existing technical infrastructure for data delivery and user-friendly accessibility.

Goal 3.3: Develop and support inspiring programs about the atmospheric and related sciences that allow citizens to make informed decisions.


NCAR, UCAR, and UOP have long maintained an excellent visitor services and public education program that provides quality exhibits, educational opportunities, and public events, as well as outreach to professional societies through the UCAR corporate booth. In addition to these activities, UCAR's Office of Development and Government Affairs and UCAR Communications provide information about our programs and research to the public, decision makers, and the media. Through this goal, the strategic planning committee seeks to define the scope and focus of E&O's efforts to support informal science education activities, as well as more formal ones in support of atmospheric and related sciences. The committee has identified seven objectives through which this goal will be accomplished.

Objective 3.3.1: Sustain and continuously enhance our exhibit and tour program
Our visitor programs serve tens of thousands of people annually, including many thousands of K-12 students and their accompanying parents and teachers. To best serve our visitors and excite them about our science, it is vital that we continually enhance our exhibit and tour program and that we find ways to extend its appeal to diverse audiences. It is through contact with our tour directors and these Mesa Lab resources that our visitors can be informed about and inspired by cutting-edge research in the atmospheric and related sciences and its relevance to society.

The development of self-guided audio tours would ensure that the same tour experience is available to all visitors, whether or not their visit coincides with a scheduled tour.. The NCAR/UCAR 40th anniversary celebrations showed the depth of interest within our local community in science-based outreach events at the Mesa Lab for children and families. Drawing from E&O's extensive experience with public programming (e.g., Super Science Saturdays, the Community Art Showcase, and the Bubble and Balloon Festival), we will study the feasibility of adding another major event to our annual cycle of informal science education activities.

E&O will work to align our hands-on exhibits with the National Research Council's national science education standards. The office will also develop supplementary educational resources that integrate childrens' experiences at the Mesa Lab with activities that can be accomplished upon returning to the classroom.

Objective 3.3.2: Develop a robust public information program that includes lectures, symposia, and a speakers bureau.
NCAR and UCAR get frequent requests for speakers to address conferences and civic and educational groups on topics such as air pollution, climate change, and severe weather, all of which affect or are affected by human activities. We will provide a speakers bureau to be responsive to such requests and will entrain staff support in taking on this outreach effort.

We will support UCAR's Office of Development and Government Affairs (ODGA) in continuing to hold the annual Walter Orr Roberts Distinguished Lecture. The series honors people who are role models for their extraordinary contributions to atmospheric or related sciences research, education, and/or policy. These lectures, held in Boulder, Colorado, for a public audience will be taped for cable and/or radio broadcast in order to make the information available to a wider audience.

The Roberts Forum Web site, also developed by ODGA, will be expanded to include all UCAR-originated lectures, talks, seminars, and briefings that are of interest to students and the general public. In Roberts Forum programming, scientists and policy experts from NCAR, UCAR, the university community, the federal government, and other organizations explain the foci, discoveries, societal applications, and policy implications of a wide range of research enterprises in the atmospheric and related sciences. Options for the Web-based presentation of Roberts Forum programs include streaming media, enhanced photographs, transcripts, and slides.

Objective 3.3.3: Develop and institutionalize partnerships with media organizations that will facilitate UCAR's ability to bring science content to the public.
UCAR Communications has close, ongoing, working relations with major news and documentary media-print, television, radio, and electronic. Through an enhanced outreach effort, E&O will help to expand these relationships by developing new collaborations with production companies and corporations that initiate and underwrite programming. Such efforts will complement UCAR Communications efforts by providing additional topical suggestions, by developing educational content, and by facilitating production. Potential partners include PBS, the National Geographic Society, the Discovery and Learning Channels, Black Entertainment Television, the BBC, British Channel 4, the Weather Channel, and IMAX. In these efforts, E&O will work closely with the Communications office. The role of E&O will be to foster new partnerships, participate in concept development, and provide science-education content. Communications will maintain its lead role with media, focusing on working with producers on development and production of programs for the public from concept to finished product.

Objective 3.3.4: Develop and implement a plan for participation in high-impact projects that inspire and engage the public in atmospheric and related sciences.
Increasingly, informal science education opportunities are being made available in science centers, museums, and theme parks that serve millions of people annually. We will develop and implement plans for high-impact projects that provide the public with inspirational and engaging information about the atmospheric and related sciences. We will design projects that are directed to a variety of audiences, according to age, interest, and accessibility. We will work collaboratively with local organizations such as the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Boulder Collage Children's Museum and also seek collaborations with appropriate museums throughout the country. This type of collaboration might involve developing complementary exhibits placed at the museums and at the Mesa Lab that share a common theme but uniquely target visitors attracted to the individual facilities.

Outreach to a more general audience might include production of traveling exhibits and partnership in creating exhibits at other science centers and museums. An example of possible collaborative projects in this area is the development of an IMAX film that features field research and scientific visualization technology. Potential partners include the Smithsonian Institution, American Museum of Natural History, National Geographic Society, and Franklin Institute Science Museum.

Objective 3.3.5: Highlight advances in atmospheric and related sciences through high-visibility Web interfaces.
Our institution is blessed with a wealth of exciting and newsworthy scientific content that could be translated and disseminated globally to students and the public through the Internet. We have only just begun to understand how people use and learn from Web-based educational resources and the potential for growth in this area is almost limitless. We will redesign the existing education and outreach Web site for the institution, so that the information engages our target audiences and interests them in finding out more about the atmospheric and related sciences.

In these efforts, we will build upon existing resources within E&O (e.g. the Windows to the Universe program and Web Weather for Kids), as well as the rich assortment of images, scientific visualizations, and narratives available through UCAR, NCAR, and UOP Web sites. We will also use this suite of Web sites to provide the public with access to UCAR member and affiliate institutions.

Objective 3.3.6: Collaborate with UCAR's Office of Development and Government Affairs to coordinate and leverage our congressional briefings and visits to policy makers.
The UCAR Office of Development and Government Affairs offers several congressional briefings each year on scientific research of particular interest because of its societal implications. These briefings convey UCAR community funding priorities and programmatic recommendations to policy makers either in Washington, D.C., or during visits to the NCAR Mesa Lab. This activity presents an excellent opportunity for E&O to collaborate with ODGA to feature educational programs or research topics. These briefings will then be made available to the general public through the Roberts Forum Web site.

Objective 3.3.7: Provide training and resources to support staff participation in public outreach.
Public outreach activities should be an accepted and encouraged responsibility of scientific and other professional staff. The time of many staff at our institution and throughout the UCAR community is already heavily committed. Potential speakers may not have the training or materials they need to address civic and school groups, talk to the media, or participate in other activities that involve nontechnical audiences. Accordingly, E&O, with partners such as UCAR Communications and the Space Science Institute, will provide coaching and advice, formal training, presentation materials, activities, and other aids to help professional staff throughout the UCAR community carry out these activities effectively and successfully.

Goal 3.4: Promote the involvement of diverse and historically underrepresented populations in the geosciences.


The atmospheric and related sciences are experiencing a downward trend in university enrollment and professional recruitment, which points to a grim future for these vital disciplines and the society which benefits from them. Members of some ethnic and cultural groups and women in general are untapped resources in the fields of science, math, and engineering, due largely to their underrepresentation in university faculty and student populations in these disciplines.

For over 21 years, first through its Summer Employment Program and more recently through SOARS, UCAR has demonstrated commitment to mentoring activities that increase the number of African American, American Indian, Hispanic/Latino, and women students enrolled in master's and doctoral degree programs in the atmospheric and related sciences. UCAR's goal is to help increase ethnic and gender diversity within the scientific community of the future in its top leadership as well as at all levels where scientific research and operational support are accomplished. But SOARS alone is not enough. This goal calls upon the Office of Education and Outreach to encourage and support the institution and the UCAR community to incorporate diversity into the planning and implementation of all programs.

Objective 3.4.1: Create and foster academic programs that promote diversity in the geosciences.
The top priority in meeting this objective is to establish well-integrated diversity programs that invite and promote the participation of women and people of color at all levels within the atmospheric sciences.

SOARS is having a positive impact on efforts to promote diversity in the geosciences. Areas of impact include increasing the number of eligible graduate school candidates, graduates, and professionals in the workforce; contributing to the development of science through research; presentation of research results at local, regional, and national scientific meetings; publications in scientific journals; and education and outreach in general.

It is important to increase the number of internal and external publications that describe and provide insight into the SOARS program's success so that the model can become better known to the public and more widely disseminated throughout the scientific and educational communities. Efforts will continue to maintain and enhance ongoing appraisals of SOARS that support collaboration, synergy, and continuous improvement.

UCAR must investigate additional opportunities for significant contributions to our diversity goal for other target groups (e.g., K-12 math and science students from underrepresented populations), and proceed with implementation of new programs that extend our diversity efforts into a comprehensive program.

Objective 3.4.2: Survey existing academic bridging and training programs to determine if collaborations with existing programs will help UCAR to achieve our goal.
The SOARS program is a very successful model for retaining undergraduate students from underrepresented groups through their graduate years. A challenging problem remains, however, in that the number of these undergraduate students enrolled in scientific degree programs is small. In order to increase the diversity of practicing geoscientists, diversity programs must examine mechanisms by which they may work to increase the pipeline of underrepresented students from the K-12 and postsecondary sectors. Part of this analysis must include examination of the reasons these students are discouraged from participation in scientific careers. E&O will survey existing academic bridging programs for underrepresented students as they move from K-12 into colleges and universities in order to determine if collaboration with one or more of these programs would be feasible.

Objective 3.4.3: Collaborate with selected existing external programs to encourage individuals to pursue atmospheric and related sciences.
A number of programs exist that focus on attracting underrepresented K-12 students to the sciences and retaining their interest through the high school years. E&O will seek detailed information about these programs, with the hope of being able to identify students who may, in the future, be interested in college or university study in the atmospheric and related sciences. By identifying these individuals, we will have a database of future possible applicants to SOARS and other programs.

Objective 3.4.4: Analyze findings in internal and external studies relating to diversity to determine how the education and outreach program can support the overall diversity goals of the institution.
A number of external studies have examined the status of women and underrepresented minorities in the geosciences. In addition, UCAR and NCAR have collected information about the status and job satisfaction of women within the institution. Recently, the UCAR Diversity Task Force has recommended strategies for increasing UCAR's diversity. Many of these strategies have potential to improve the quality of life and job satisfaction of all people working within our institution. E&O will examine these internal and external studies to identify ways the office can support the diversity goals of the institution.

Table 3. Overarching Principles and Considerations for Prioritization of
the Education and Outreach Program

Overarching Principles

  • All activities should be consistent with the Education and Outreach Strategic Plan mission, vision, and values.
  • All activities should be appropriate for a national center and should leverage our unique expertise in research, technology, and program capabilities. Our role as a national center directs us to emphasize programs with a national scope.
  • Activities that support and collaborate with the UCAR member universities and affiliates have the highest priority.
  • Activities should focus on the integration of scientific research in education.
  • Increasing the diversity of the atmospheric and related sciences is a high priority in all our programs.

Other Considerations for Prioritization

  • Within the constraints of our available resources, seek an appropriate balance in the implementation of the strategic plan. Aspects of balance include educational level (K-12 through postgraduate), regional scale (local through global), and scope (formal education, informal education, and diversity).
  • Take advantage of funding opportunities if they address an area of activity identified in the strategic plan. This may mean that activities of a lower priority receive more resources and attention temporarily, because resources are available for these activities.
  • Seek new resources rather than taking away resources from our scientific and technology programs.
  • Partner whenever possible, internally and externally, in order to leverage resources.
  • Support all aspects of UCAR's mission-scientific research, facilities, advocacy, human resources, communication, and operational partnerships.

Objective 3.4.5: Support the UCAR community in attracting and retaining a diverse workforce.
E&O will apply its expertise in education and outreach to the support of efforts to increase the diversity of the workforce within the institution and throughout the UCAR community.

Objective 3.4.6: Use and, as necessary, develop materials and exhibits that recognize contributions to atmospheric and related sciences from diverse groups.
In our exhibit and resource development program, we will consider using existing materials that strive to recognize contributions to the atmospheric and related sciences from members of different cultures. If appropriate resources do not exist, we will collaborate with others to develop such materials.

Objective 3.4.7: Develop collaborations with organizations representing diverse groups through participation in their existing programs and the creation of new programs.
E&O will work to institutionalize and extend our participation in organizations representing diverse groups (e.g., AISES, SACNAS, the historically black colleges and universities). We will investigate opportunities to participate in and support their existing programs, simultaneously extending our science to them, drawing upon their knowledge and networks, and making progress toward attaining UCAR's diversity goal.

4.0 Priorities for Implementing the Plan

The Education and Outreach Strategic Planning Committee intentionally formulated this strategic plan to be a broad and comprehensive review of the activities we envision over the coming five years.

However, funding and staffing limitations will make it necessary for E&O to prioritize its activities and optimize the utilization of resources while significantly supporting the nation's educational agenda. We have carefully considered the qualities that should be integral to activities well-aligned with the plan's mission, vision, and values (Table 2). This analysis has allowed us to identify overarching principles and related considerations that will guide the prioritization of our programs (Table 3).

In order to determine the appropriate balance of activities that will be the outcome of this plan, we need to consider education and outreach efforts throughout the institution as they currently exist. The committee has collected data on funding levels for fiscal year (FY) 2000 from programs throughout UCAR, NCAR, and UOP that contribute to postgraduate training, graduate and undergraduate education, K-12 formal science education, informal science education, and diversity.

Figure 1 shows the overall balance among these areas during that year. Data from formal and informal K-12 education have been combined, as have the data for graduate and postgraduate training. Level of funding is one way to measure the relative emphasis we place on our education and outreach activities, although it is not the only way. In particular, this analysis does not consider the volunteer efforts of our staff.

Some qualifications on the data presented are important to recognize. The figure provides an estimate of the fraction of resources, relative to our overall education and outreach effort in FY00, dedicated to the program areas identified above. The data were derived from previously published reports and from interviews with key personnel in the offices, divisions, or major programs within the institution. Information concerning NCAR is drawn from NCAR's FY01 budget review, in which divisions and programs reported the portion of their overall budgets dedicated to education and training. Information concerning UCAR and UOP programs was provided by the leaders of those programs. However, because different definitions of education and outreach may have been used in reporting activities for NCAR and UCAR, the data presented here must be taken as only an estimate.

In spite of these qualifications, the figure illustrates that, in FY00 the institution placed the largest fraction of its education and outreach efforts in the graduate and postgraduate training area. Comparatively little emphasis overall was placed on K-12 education, public outreach, informal science education, diversity, and undergraduate education. As we implement this strategic plan, guided by the overarching principles and considerations for prioritization outlined in Table 3, we will ensure that significant effort occurs in all areas and for all audiences relevant to the E&O mission.

Figure 1 - Education and outreach activities as a fraction of the FY2000 Program. This graph represents the estimated relative activity in the four different components of the E & O program, based on data collected for the FY01 NCAR Budget review and from relevant program directors in UCAR and UOP (for more detail, please see the text). The overall E & O budget for FY00 is estimated at approximately $21.5 million, excluding volunteer efforts.
A. Appendix

UCAR Board of Trustees
Reviewed Draft Education and Outreach Strategic Plan, February 2001

Otis Brown, Board Chair, University of Miami, Rosenstiel School
Richard Anthes, UCAR
Leo Donner, Princeton University
David Houghton, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Eugenia Kalnay, University of Maryland
Charles Kennel, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Paola Malanotte-Rizzoli, MIT
  Ron McPherson, American Meteorology Society
Julia Nogues-Paegle, University of Utah
Mary Jo Richardson, Texas A&M University
David Skaggs, Aspen Institute
Ronald Smith, Yale University
Soroosh Sorooshian, The University of Arizona
Dennis Thomson, The Pennsylvania State University
Gabor Vali, University of Wyoming
Patricia Woodworth, University of Chicago


NSF Staff
Commented on developing Education and Outreach Strategic Plan, October, 2000,
and reviewed draft plan, February, 2001

Cliff Jacobs
Jewel Prendeville

Fall 2000 UCAR Members' Representatives Meeting,
Focus Group on Education and Training, October 10, 2000
Presentation and discussion of developing plan

Chair: Gene Takle, Iowa State
Presenter: Roberta Johnson, UCAR
Tim Barnes, UCAR
Bruce Berryman, Lyndon State College
Blaine Blad, University of Nebraska
Fred Carr, University of Oklahoma
Paul Croft, Jackson State University
Kathi Delehoy, Colorado State University
Zhenya Gallon, UCAR
Peter Garity, New Mexico Tech
Jindra Goodman, San Jose State University
Bernard Grant, NSF
Patricia Hagen, St. Louis University
Fred House, Drexel University
Kay Howe, private consultant
Lodovica Illari, MIT
Karon Kelly, UCAR
Lynn LeBlanc, University of Louisiana at Monroe
Roland List, University of Toronto
  Paul McCready, Aerovironment Inc.
Jose A. Maliekal, SUNY College at Brockport
Mary Marlino, UCAR
James Miller, Rutgers University
Laney Mills, University of Charleston
Susan Montgomery-Hodge, UCAR
Stephen Mudrick, University of Missouri at Columbia
Rene Munoz, UCAR
Don Perkey, University of Alabama at Hunstville
Peter Rabideau, Iowa State University
Mary Jo Richardson, Texas A&M
Bob Roper, Georgia Tech
David Smith, US Naval Academy
Tim Spangler, UCAR
Fred Stafford, University of Chicago
Peter Taylor, York University
Carlyle Wash, Naval Postgraduate School
Tom Windham, UCAR


Participants in Workshop
on Earth System Education Partnerships with Research Institutions,
January 29-31, 2001, NCAR Mesa Lab

Susan Alexander, California State University/ Monterey Bay
Paul Berkman, Ohio State University
Richard D. Clark, Millersville University
Debra Colodner, Biosphere 2 Center
Alan Czarnetzki, University of Northern Iowa
Christopher DiLeonardo, Foothill College
Tom Ervin, NESTA President
Edward Geary, Colorado State University
John Gibbs, City College of New York (Medger Evers College)
Don Johnson, Universities Space Research Association
Jennifer Johnson, University of California / Berkeley
Paul J. Kuerbis, Colorado College
Laurel Lacher, CIRES and White Mountain Apache Tribe
Russanne Low, University of Minnesota
Heather MacDonal,d College of William and Mary
Cathy Manduca, Carleton College
Carol McLaren, University of Colorado - Boulder
David Mogk, Montana State University
Don Reed, San Jose State University
Martin Ruzek, Universities Space Research Association
Jill Singer, Buffalo State College
Jack Stanesco, Red Rocks Community College
Michael Taber, University of Northern Colorado
Owen Thompson, University of MD at College Park
Susan Wood, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College
R. Aileen Yingst, Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium

UCAR/NCAR/UOP Staff Participants
Tim Barnes (E&O)
Sally Bates (Unidata)
Brigitte Baeuerle (ATD)
Maurice Blackmon (CGD)
Linda Carbone (E&O)
Dave Carlson (ATD)

  Steve Cohn (ATD)
Al Cooper (ASP)
Mike Daniels (ATD)
Clara Deser (CGD)
Holly Devaul (DLESE)
Ben Domenico (Unidata)
Jack Fellows (UOP)
Susan Foster (E&O)
Zhenya Gallon (UCAR Communications)
Sandra Henderson (E&O)
Bob Henson (UCAR Communications)
Kaye Howe (DLESE)
Beverly Johnson (SOARS)
Roberta Johnson (E&O)
Karon Kelly (DLESE)
Tim Killeen (NCAR)
Joe Lamos (COMET)
Annette Lampert (E&O)
Peggy LeMone (MMM)
Heidi Lewis (E&O)
Mary Marlino (DLESE)
Don Middleton (SCD)
Kathy Miller (ESIG)
Rene Munoz (E&O)
Roger Pielke Jr. (ESIG)
Carol Rassmussen (UCAR Communications)
Cindy Schmidt (ODGA)
Karen Smith-Herman (E&O)
Tim Spangler (COMET)
Tim Scheitlin (SCD)
Katy Schmoll (F&A)
Jeff Stith (ATD)
Erich Thanhardt (SCD)
Lucy Warner (UCAR Communications)
Marianne Weingroff (DLESE)
Morris Weisman (MMM)
Tom Windham (SOARS)