ESRL Global Systems Division

SOS Holds Workshop in Boulder for Science and Social Studies Teachers

"The Sphere Next Door," a teacher workshop, hosted by NOAA's Science On a Sphere® (SOS) Program, with support from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, was held at the David Skaggs Research Center in Boulder, Colorado on Wednesday and Thursday, July 17 and 18, 2013. The workshop, designed for Colorado secondary science and social studies educators, was an effort to increase local educators' comfort working with SOS technology and content, as well as knowledge of NOAA data in the classroom. There were 12 teachers from Cherry Creek, Boulder Valley, and Keenesburg, Colorado School Districts. The Earth System Research Laboratory/Global Systems Division/Technology Outreach Branch (ESRL/GSD/TOB) SOS education effort is led by Hilary Peddicord, who also organized and conducted this University of Colorado-accredited workshop.

During the workshop, teachers were exposed to climate-focused SOS demonstrations incorporating clickers and visual/kinesthetic learning activities, as well as scientific literacy and inquiry best practices using SOS data sets. Technology education specialist, Emily Kellagher of the University of Colorado – Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) education outreach, delivered a presentation entitled "Creating Data Rich Lessons," and included activities from the GLOBE Program (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment), as well as many other prepared data set Web resources. A graduate student intern, Eryka Thorley, also presented, with the help of SOS team member Beth Russell, the process of going from data to visualization – highlighting malaria and dengue fever data sets discovered and created by the duo. The teachers were also given time to plan their own lessons around SOS in the classroom and prepare their students for a field trip to NOAA.

SOS is a large visualization system that uses computers and video projectors to display animated data onto the outside of a sphere. It was invented by Alexander "Sandy" MacDonald, Director of NOAA/ESRL in Boulder, Colorado and OAR Chief Science Advisor. Dr. MacDonald came up with the concept for SOS in 1995 as an outgrowth of other visualization projects he was directing within the former Forecast Systems Laboratory of OAR. The SOS Program is administratively managed and technically supported in ESRL/GSD/TOB.

Researchers at NOAA continue to develop and advance SOS as an educational tool to help illustrate Earth system science to people of all ages. Animated images of atmospheric storms, climate change, and ocean temperature can be shown on the sphere, which is used to explain complex environmental processes in a way that is simultaneously intuitive and captivating.

SOS is a NOAA program that has developed a revolutionary system for educating the public on the holistic nature of Earth's ever-changing oceans, atmosphere, and land. SOS presents NOAA's global science in a new and exciting way by providing an engaging three-dimensional representation of our planet as if the viewer were looking at the Earth from outer space.

SOS extends NOAA's educational program goals, which are designed to increase public understanding of the environment. Using their collective experience and knowledge of the Earth's land, oceans, and atmosphere, NOAA uses SOS as an instrument to enhance informal educational programs in science centers, universities, and museums across the country and globally. SOS is available to any institution, is currently in operation at 99 facilities in the United States and around the world, and has 33 million viewers a year.

Contact information
Name: William B Bendel
Tel: 303 497-6708
William.B.Bendel@noaa.gov