Virtual Visits with the National Center for Atmospheric Research

Virtual Visits with the National Center for Atmospheric Research

Since you can’t come to us due to the COVID-19 closures, the UCAR Center for Science Education is working to bring some cool NCAR science straight from our homes to yours!

We now offer two online "Virtual Visits", and more are in development. Our programs are geared towards youth in grades K-12. You’ll find suggested age ranges in each program description, but feel free to join any that look interesting, regardless of age!

Programs will be offered via Zoom. Other platforms may be used in the future. Please plan to join the Zoom about 5 minutes before the program starts.

Watch this page for updated details about our virtual offerings, and also check out our collection of educational resources that help students learn more about the atmosphere, weather, climate, Sun and space weather, and the Earth as a system.

Ask NCAR! Live Q&A with NCAR experts (Grades 5-12)

What is it like to work at NCAR?! Join us to hear from a different expert each week. Learn about what they do in their work, the highlights and challenges, and how it impacts us and our world. Then ask them anything you want to know about what it's like to do their jobs! The program will last ~20 minutes.

We encourage you to send questions in advance of the program, and we'll share them during the Q&A. You can also submit questions during the talk, and our experts will answer as many as possible!

Upcoming Ask NCAR program schedule (all times in MDT):

Wednesday, May 27, 10:30am: Zoom link

Climate change and our ocean

The ocean absorbs a large amount of fossil fuel carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping to slow the rate of global warming. However, as it takes up more and more carbon, the ocean becomes more acidic. Holly Olivarez is an oceanographer at the University of Colorado Boulder who does research with NCAR studying the ocean's absorption of carbon dioxide. Holly will tell us how climate change motivated her to become a scientist and what she's learning in her research, and then answer your questions! *

*Want to play along on a demo with Holly?! Be ready with a small glass of vinegar, and a piece of chalk or antacid tablet (like Tums).

Previous Ask NCAR programs: 

Click on the links for video recordings. 

Not your average aircraft: A mobile laboratory for weather research
NCAR manages two aircraft that are specially equipped to collect data on atmospheric phenomena ranging from hurricanes and convective storms to wildfire's effects on the atmosphere to how mountains change weather. Software engineer and data manager Janine Aquino will share her adventures writing code to control robots that collect weather measurements, and traveling all over the world while supporting NCAR’s mission of providing state-of-the-art resources to answer fundamental research questions.  

Adventures in science filmmaking
There are so many paths you can take in the world of science; not every PhD has to lead to a career in teaching and research. Dan Zietlow, NCAR visual media specialist, will describe his journey from geophysicist to science filmmaker. Then he'll take us on an adventure to learn about an NCAR-supported field project (you vote on which one!), get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to document them, and answer your questions about his work!

Chasing storms in Argentina
Atmospheric scientists often use computer models to simulate and study the atmosphere, but sometimes we leave the virtual world to observe storms IRL (in real life)! NCAR Advanced Studies Program postdoctoral fellow Annareli Morales will share stories from her field work in Argentina, where she launched weather balloons into thunderstorms.

Eyes on Ozone! 
Ozone is an invisible gas that can be both helpful and harmful, depending on where in the Earth's atmosphere it's located. But how can we understand and monitor it if we can't see it?! Carl Drews, a software engineer from NCAR's Atmospheric Chemistry Observations and Modeling Lab, will use computer-generated images to take us on an aerial tour to see ozone billowing off the Denver-Boulder area, and fly us through the recent Arctic ozone hole.

What can plants tell us about air pollution?
We all use plants every day in many ways, but NCAR scientist Danica Lombardozzi uses plants to learn what's in the air! Some plants are bioindicators of air pollution, which means that they are sensitive to certain pollutants such as the gas ozone. Danica will tell us about her work at NCAR, including how plants help her understand ozone pollution! 

Hurricanes are one of the most destructive weather phenomena on Earth. Damaging winds, flooding rains and storm surge frequently impact our vulnerable coastlines. What can we expect future hurricanes to look like? NCAR scientist James Done runs computer simulations of hurricanes on powerful supercomputers to figure out how bad our weather could get. Join James to discuss how the science is done and what it is telling us.
 

Let’s Compare Warm and Cold Air! (Grades K-5)

This Virtual Visit is offered by request! With a minimum of 3 individuals or groups to join, we'll schedule a live program for you. Please use the contact information below to make a request. 

Try it at home as our educators guide you through an experiment with soapy water and a bottle to see how air behaves when it changes temperature, and how that contributes to the formation of some types of clouds and weather. This activity will take 15-20 minutes.

A photograph of two rectangular plastic bins, labeled containers of hot and cold water, a green bottle, a purple towel and a small round plastic containerSupplies you'll need to try the activity at home during Let's Compare Warm and Cold Air!
Credit: UCAR

To try the activity at home during the program, you’ll need:

  • A small plastic bottle, like a water or soda bottle
  • About a tablespoon of dish soap in a container at least as large as the mouth of the bottle (You'll be turning the bottle upside down & dipping it in the container.)
  • Two larger containers (such as bowls or tubs) - big enough to hold the bottom of the bottle with some water
  • About 2 inches of cold, ice water in one of the larger containers
  • About 2 inches of very hot water in the other larger container (It's best to boil the water just before the program begins, as it will cool a bit before we get to the demo to use it.)

   

Please contact Education Specialist Tiffany Fourment with any questions about our educational programming and resources.

 

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UCAR