Closing the DEN SCICon with Stormchaser Reed Timmer: Into the Storm ~ Following the Love of Science

Brad Fountain

Leave it to the DEN SciCon to deliver professional development that is relevant, authentic, inquiry-based, global, and interactive with the best-in-the-business presenters. Add to that streaming live. Love it. Always appreciate when you can find everything in one place. That’s just one of the things I love about Discovery Education. Another is this end-of-day streaming format. Everything is in one place: real-time learning, commenting, link sharing, Q&A, and the FUN-damentals of a global PLC–all in one place. I’ve come to expect the very best–and receive it–above and beyond from DE.

In the hiatus between presentations, I cannot help but think how much today’s presentations taught me, always reinforcing the power of the DENetwork. Although attending an in-person live event is a great dynamic, I must admit that with 5 degree weather, learning without leaving is a fine way to spend a day. Discovery brings the world into my living room. Literally. Dr. Moss so eloquently praised the power of Discoverystreaming and DE in the classroom, and with her I wonder how much teachers and students are hampered without the rich resources of the Discovery platforms, whether free pre-logins or subscription.

Reed Timmer, Discovery’s “extreme meteorologist” and Stormchaser, said that his first experience with storm chasing was as a child when he destroyed his family’s camera. He welcomes the advance of many people joining the ranks of meteorology; he likes they will flood the field. Calling his vehicle for stormchasing the Dominator, he states the term took hold and made it much easier to chase storms with newer technology.

Some connectivity issues, but Reed mentioned that often happens in the field as well. But the process of chasing weather puts Reed and his crew in harm’s way frequently. Field experiments in near-tornado alerts create challenges, but he states that’s what makes his job fun. At 30 years old, Reed said that stormchasing is like a science olympiad. They launch probes into the tornadoes, but how they do that is beyond my ken (and ability to capture, so do watch the archived stream).

Stormchasing involves measuring horizontal and vertical elements intercepted inside the tornardo. You can be inside the tornado for 2-3 minutes on an interception, but with the Dominator, you usually just get messed up hair. The goal of interceptions is to measure how strong the tornado can get. For someone like me who is terrified of storms at large, I admire the passion Reed brings to living, even briefly, inside a tornado. What courage. Just watching a video from the 6th episode if scary stuff. OTF, or On The Fly interviews are done in some extreme locations.

Reed told his audience that your foundation in math and science in middle and high school is critical to his profession. Students need to study hard, and math proficiency is as importance as the science component.

Plans for 2011: AC in Dominator 1 and 2, since the AC died and it was 130 degrees inside the Dominator.

At some point, there are parachute probes that are inserted into a tornado. Interestingly, in 2011 an iMax movie about this subject will premiere (if Discovery offers invitations to a launch, I’d love to be there). Definitely watch the streaming; I did not do justice to Reed’s presentation.

Watch live streaming video from discoveryedu at livestream.com

Five lucky people will get an autographed copy of Reed Timmer’s book, based on their DE survey responses.

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