ES 560-G1: Topics in Earth Science: Meteorology for Middle and High School Teachers

Phase Change of Water in the Atmosphere, Summer 2002


Contact the Course Instructor:



Electronic Mail


Office Hours

Dr. Rob Hellström

209A, Conant Science Building, Bridgewater State College

(508) 531-2842

Contact instructor by e-mail or phone


Course Prerequisites:  

Would be eligible to sign up for graduate level courses at Bridgewater State College.


Course Structure:  


Course #

Day, Time




(1 credit hr)

Monday, 24 June 9 am - 12 noon

Tuesday, 25 June 9 am - 3 pm

Wednesday, 26 June 9 am - 3 pm

Plymouth Community Intermediate School


Required Textbook:

No required textbook: students will receive laboratory handouts and copies of lecture notes.


Helpful Resources:

These text resources are not required, but may be helpful:

- Ahrens, C. D., 2001: Essentials of Meteorology. 3rd ed. Brooks/Cole Publishing. 464 pp.

- Lutgens, F. K., and E. J. Tarbuck, 2001: The Atmosphere. 8th ed. Prentice Hall. 484 pp.

- Danielson, E. W., J. Levin, and E. Abrams, 1998: Meteorology. WCB McGraw-Hill. 462 pp.

- Online Weather Studies: Study Guide, 2001: Fourth Printing. American Meteorological Society. Preview at:  

- Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Frameworks for Massachusetts: World Wide Web access to MS Word download:   


Course Objectives:  

This course is designed for middle and high school teachers of earth science and general science. Topics will include the use of the Internet, data collecting and weather analysis. Teachers will gain experience through presentations of material. Emphasis will be placed on current issues and innovative use of available resources. A course web page will provide access to content material and updates; access using the Internet Explorer or Netscape world wide web browsers.



Grading for this course is based on completion of two (2) independent projects and one (1) 15-minute presentation/demonstration of a content-based, “hands-on” module for teaching Earth and/or Space Science material to Middle or High School students.

General Format + Participation (10%):

- The first hour or so of each meeting period presents theoretical and conceptual material 

- Remainder of each meeting period provides time to ask questions and for you to complete activities as assigned in the outline below

- You will be required to fill out a beginning and end-of-the course survey

- You will receive a course packet of the labs and additional ideas




Projects (50%): The instructor will demonstrate and you will complete two (2) projects during the second of three class meetings. Motivating critical thinking, inquiry, use of mathematics, and understanding the scientific method are the primary objectives of the projects. Projects will include field observations, Internet activities, interpretation of real-time weather images and digital data, lab-oriented content material and applications of a spreadsheet (Microsoft Excel) for graphing and analysis. The exercise outline (handed out at the first class meeting) and the course web page provide further details. The topic of this ES560 offering is Phase Change of Water in the Atmosphere. You are required to complete the following projects. You need to turn in your project reports at the last class meeting or mail (or e-mail) them to the instructor within one week of your last class meeting. 


Project #1: Supercooled Water and Latent Heat in the Atmosphere

Phase change of water releases or absorbs energy from its surrounding environment. This project examines the concepts of latent heat and supercooled water through hands-on experimentation and graphical analysis. Understanding latent heat and other forms of heat transfer is fundamental studying meteorological phenomena, such as precipitation formation and thunderstorm and hurricane development. 


Project #2: Clouds and Snow

Clouds composed of liquid droplets, ice crystals or a combination of both form by the processes of condensation and ice crystallization. Clouds help regulate the weather and climate on Earth. This project examines the concepts of cloud formation. Understanding the conditions necessary for cloud formation helps meteorologists and climatologists analyze weather patterns and increase the accuracy of forecasts.


Project #3: Detecting water in the Atmosphere: analysis and interpretation of real-time weather data from the World Wide Web

Land-based weather measurements and remote sensing from radar and numerous satellite-based instruments permit atmospheric scientists (and anyone with access to the Web) to detect and interpret the spatial patterns and dynamic nature water in the atmosphere. This project demonstrates some valuable sources and procedures for detecting and interpreting local to global patterns of water in liquid, gas and solid form.


Material requirements are kept simple and easily acquired at low cost. The two projects will emphasize field observations, interpretation of patterns, working with fractions and geometry, graphing techniques, and scientific writing skills. 


Presentation of a “hands-on” teaching module (40%): Upon completing the two independent projects, you will create a new (or modify an existing) activity that effectively achieves objectives similar to those of the independent projects. Topics should fall within those covered by Earth and/or Space Sciences. You may use concepts stated in Strand 1: Earth and Space Science, of the Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework for Massachusetts. Satisfactory completion requires a typed description of the module and a 15-minute presentation/demonstration of how it works; you will present your project during the last class meeting.  A write-up of the module and copies for the class are required. We will compile the modules into a teaching guide and share ideas at the end of the course.

Attendance and Communication:

Attend all classes as scheduled above. Contact the instructor prior to the class if you cannot attend the designated class times. You will be contacted if poor weather conditions necessitate cancellation of a class. A special phone tree and e-mail list will facilitate communication among students and the instructor; you are advised to fill this out during the first class period. Every student will receive a photo-copy of the class communication list.

Supplies you need to purchase or acquire (each student):

a. One loose-leaf, 3-ring binder (1.0 inch size recommended)

b. One 3.5 inch floppy diskette (IBM formatted)

c. 1 empty (clear) 2 Liter bottle with cap

d. Styrofoam cooler

e. Clear plastic cup

f. Ordinary table salt (1/4 cup per student)

g. Access to hot water tap

h. Two liquid-in-glass thermometers

i. Flat-black spray paint

j. 2 Large disposable aluminum cookie sheets (oven liners are fine)

k. Glass coffee pot or large glass beaker of similar size

l. Large Zip-lock bag

m. Enough ice cubes to fill the Zip-lock bag

n. Book of matches

o. Flashlight

p. Leather or insulated work gloves (handling dry ice)

q. Duct tape (about 2 meters length)

r. Dry ice pellets (order from the Dry Ice Corporation, Rockland, MA: 

     Phone: 781.871.4407

     Comes in 50 pound boxes at about $32.00 per box => enough for 5 experiments

s. You will receive additional materials to complete the course content


Special needs:

Any student eligible for and needing academic adjustments or accommodations because of a disability is requested to contact the instructor prior to the first scheduled class.