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Fostering Computational Skills in Secondary Education Earth Sciences through Jupyter Notebooks
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  • Shelley Olds,
  • LuAnn Dahlman,
  • Sean Gordan,
  • Keith Maull
Shelley Olds
University of Nebraska Lincoln

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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LuAnn Dahlman
NOAA Climate Program Office
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Sean Gordan
HDF Group
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Keith Maull
National Center for Atmospheric Research
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As a multi-year coding in the classroom initiative, the Earth Science Information Partners’ education committee and community members have been exploring how to integrate coding skills and computational thinking within an Earth science context. This presentation describes a Jupyter notebook project that resulted in a professional development Data to Action Education Workshop during the ESIP 2019 Summer Meeting in Tacoma, Washington. The main goal of the workshop was to provide K-12 teacher participants the opportunity to learn how modify and run code that would display and analyze data about hurricanes in the Atlantic basin using a Jupyter Notebook. The topic was chosen for two specific reasons. Middle- and high- school Earth Science curricula include a learning unit about weather, particularly hurricanes, as a topic of instruction thus the content could be a natural fit into most classrooms. Secondly, employing a familiar content area in a coding-dedicated workshop meant that teachers could focus on the code itself and bring their knowledge about hurricanes to create new questions to explore. Workshop participants included in-service teachers currently instructing in middle and/or high school geoscience or technology courses, most of whom had very little or no background in programming. Teachers became familiar with the Jupyter environment, gained experience in interpreting coding cell content, and built confidence in manipulating code and parameters to develop graphical outputs. Through merging coding practice applied to learning instructional content, teachers were able to experiment and succeed (or fail) in a safe environment, practicing the skills their students need to learn. By encouraging teachers to learn how to code, we help them to foster their students curiosity to be creators, more than just consumers, of the technology around us and develop skills paramount to be career- and college-ready. We discuss the pedagogical and technical approaches and lessons learned through the design, development, implementation, and evaluation phases of this project.