About Michelle

I am a PhD candidate in Environmental Sciences at Oregon State University, focusing on research in informal education settings. I regularly post about my experiences as an external evaluator for museums and a local school district as well as stories or ideas that catch my attention. Research for my doctorate focuses on how aquarium staff and volunteer environmental identities have formed over time.

It seems like I never left Corvallis. It’s my first full day in San Francisco and the skies are grey and it’s raining! Thankfully, I am staying inside at the Exploratorium with two visiting NOAA scientists who study weather. The scientist-in-residence program at the Exploratorium brings NOAA scientists to the museum floor to interact with museum staff and visitors. My role is to evaluate those interactions.

I, and the scientists, will be here for about two weeks and during that time I will post what is happening with the project. The scientist-in-residence project is funded by a NOAA Environmental Literacy grant and the iPad is written in to the grant as a mediating tool. Last year it was a struggle to incorporate the iPad, as it needs to be used with the right information at the right time and in the right space. The project team has learned from experiences during the first year and is trying out different ways of using the iPad this year.

Over the next two weeks I will use the iPad for data collection, mainly observations and surveys. I am testing how different iPad survey apps operate and if they are user friendly for both the visitor and the researcher. More on that later…

Now, to the fun part! Dave Rust, Sean Waugh and Susan Cobb are from NOAA’s National Severe Storm Lab and are the current group in residence. This means we get to talk lightning, tornados, and hail, all of which provoke strong memories of growing up in Central Illinois!

Unfortunately, Dave was only here last week. Sean drove the mobile mesonet from Oklahoma to San Francisco and it is currently parked on the museum floor. Sean is a storm chaser and both he and Susan worked on the Vortex project. They have a lot of stories to share with the explainers and visitors, along with captivating pictures, and ideas for activities. We will see how the residency shapes up over the next two weeks.