ESRL Global Systems Division

SOS Holds Workshop in Boulder for Elementary School Teachers

Taking a trip around the globe, a teacher workshop hosted by NOAA's Science On a Sphere® (SOS) Program with support from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, will be held at the David Skaggs Research Center in Boulder, Colorado on July 15 – 17, 2014. The workshop, designed for Colorado elementary school educators, is an effort to increase utilization of SOS technology and content by local educators, as well as the use of NOAA data visualizations in the classroom. There will be 14 teachers from Adams 12, Boulder Valley, and Jefferson County, 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 will conduct this University of Colorado-accredited workshop.

During the workshop, teachers will be exposed to Science On a Sphere® data visualizations, curated to fit their education standards, as well as an SOS theater program called "G is for Galaxy, an A-Z Tour of the Solar System." They will also be the first teachers to be given a detailed demonstration of the desktop flat screen SOS version in development for the classroom – SOS Explorer. The mini-lessons designed for SOS Explorer are focused on Colorado Department of Education standards, including reading and comparing weather maps to satellite observations, comparing climate of different locations around the world illustrated in the children's storybook, "On the Same Day in March: A Tour of the World’s Weather," and plotting earthquakes against plate boundaries and volcano locations. The teachers will be given time to either design their own lessons using SOS Explorer or create their own SOS program for their annual NOAA field trip.

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 current ESRL Director Dr. Sandy MacDonald in 1995 when he came up with the concept for SOS (in his garage using a beach ball painted white and a 35mm slide projector) as an outgrowth of other visualization projects that he was directing within the former Forecast Systems Laboratory. Since that time, SOS has become an important part of educational programs in 111 museums and science centers in 17 countries. The SOS Program is administratively managed and technically supported by ESRL's GSD/TOB.

Audiences around the world express excitement when they first see the rare view of the planet that an SOS presentation provides. As visualized on SOS, the Earth isn't sliced and spread out like it is on a flat map and it doesn't have rods poking through the poles like a globe. SOS displays a high-resolution view of Earth and other spherical bodies in our solar system that replicate what can be seen or sensed from satellites or modeled by supercomputers.

Researchers at NOAA/ESRL 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, illustrating complex environmental processes in a way that is simultaneously intuitive and captivating. Using an iPad app, SOS presenters are able to effortlessly display, annotate, zoom, and layer the more than 470 datasets that are available for SOS.

SOS is a NOAA/ESRL program that has developed a revolutionary system for educating the public on the holistic nature of Earth's ever-changing oceans, atmosphere, and land, and on other planets. NOAA's global science is presented on SOS in new and exciting ways by providing engaging three-dimensional representations of our planet and others as if the viewers were looking at them from outer space. Through informal educational programs in science centers, universities, and museums across the country and globally, NOAA's educational program goals are extended through SOS by increasing the public understanding of our environment, knowledge of the Earth's land, oceans, and atmosphere, and knowledge of other bodies in our solar system.

Contact information
Name: John P Schneider
Tel: 303) 497-4646
john.p.schneider@noaa.gov