2006 participant: Natalie Jalette
On Monday, July 16th, I was introduced to the fascinating world of American meteorology. Dr.
Ira W. Geer, Director of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Education Program, welcomed
seventeen secondary school teachers from across North America to the annual AMS workshop
titled “Project Atmosphere”. The workshop, sponsored by the National Oceanic
and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), was held
at the National Weather Service Training Centre (NWSTC) in Kansas City, Missouri. I, a grade
nine geography teacher from Bishop Smith Catholic High School in Pembroke, Ontario, was selected
by the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS) and theCanadian Geographic Education to represent Canada. I was accompanied by teachers from thirteen
states, namely Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey,
New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
AMS staff developed and delivered an intense, interactive fourteen-day workshop covering
a variety of topics. Topics of study included: the atmosphere, oceans, solar radiation,
weather, climate, weather systems, clouds, the coriolis effect, El Nino, La Nina, hazardous
weather conditions, storms, lightning, hurricanes, tornados, automated surface observations
systems, aerosondes, radiosondes, radar, weather satellites, satellite imagery, general
forecasting, and monitoring for aviation purposes.
The topics listed above were delivered by numerous professionals in the meteorology field.
Key note speakers included: Dr. Louis Uccellini, Director of the National Centre for Environmental
Prediction (NCEP); Dr. Joseph Schaefer, Director of the Storm Prediction Centre in Norman,
Oklahoma; Mr. Max Mayfield, Director of the Tropical Predication Centre in Miami, Florida;
and General David L. Johnson, Director of the National Weather Service (NWS) in Silver
Some interesting facts:
- On average, ten hurricanes spawn in the western Atlantic Ocean each year. (NOAA, NWS,
- Hurricane track forecasting errors have been reduced by fifty percent over the past fifty
years. (Mayfield, 2006).
- Doplar radar, which is widely used in both Canada and the United States today, was developed
in Oklahoma in 1994.
- On average, one thousand tornadoes touch down in the United States. (NOAA, NWS, 2002).
- Tornado deaths have dropped significantly over the past fifty years, from an annual average
of 350 in the year 1950 to 150 in the year 2000. (Schaefer, 2006)
Educational modules and a summary of classroom application procedures accompanied each
lecture or presentation. Evening sessions allowed for collegial discussion and idea sharing.
I had the opportunity to share Ontario's curricular expectations for weather and climate
at a variety of grade levels. I also had the opportunity to promote weather and climate
related magazines and web sites produced in Canada.
Daily presentations and lessons were further complimented by a field trip to the National
Weather Service (NWS) station in Topeka, Kansas; where we had the opportunity to witness
real-time surface chart and satellite imagery analysis, as well as a radiosonde launch.
A second field trip occurred at the National Aviation Weather Centre in Kansas City, Missouri.
Here, we had the opportunity to observe surface and upper level weather conditions via
radar and satellite imagery. Meteorologists work at this facility twenty-four hours a
day, seven days a week. It was amazing to discover that approximately 7,000 air craft
are flying over North America at any given time.
In the end, my original view of meteorology and weather forecasting as an acquired art
was transformed into a dynamic science based upon complex chemical, physical, and mathematical
The information and materials gathered during this two-week experience will be shared
with fellow teachers and students in the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board.
My goal is to increase their understanding of the science behind meteorology, promote
recent technological advances, and encourage them to further explore and/or possibly pursue
this evolving and influential field.
I am truly grateful to CMOS and Canadian Geographic Education for supporting my participation in the program.
Hopefully, Canadian interest and participation will continue for years to come!
— Natalie Jalette
Register your school to participate in this exciting annual event for students in Grades 4-10.
Besides being fun, educational and easy to administer, the Geography Challenge is a terrific opportunity for your students and your school
to shine in the spotlight!
“Students love taking part in the Geography Challenge and each year they learn more and more. Thank you for creating this great motivator for geography”