Storm Peak Education and Outreach

Undergraduate & Graduate Programs

20110322 steamboat 28 940 520 Storm Peak Laboratory hosts atmospheric science and hydrology field courses from a multitude of universities for both undergraduate and graduate students. Colorado State University, University of Colorado, University of Nevada, and University of Wisconsin courses are common at SPL.

These classes are designed to give students experience in all facets of atmospheric science or hydrology, from development of the research proposal and experiment to project planning and final reporting. The students participate in experiments and their class projects incorporate data from the state-of-the art science instrumentation at Storm Peak Laboratory.

Overall, SPL provides a practical, easily accessible facility for researchers, teachers, and students of all ages and abilities.

5th & 6th Grade School Weather & Climate Education Program

ispa project balloon launch with 5th grade class at storm peakThe overall goal of the SPL 5th and 6th grade weather and climate program is to inspire local students with science, while teaching them skills needed for success. We encourage the students to be lifelong learners in science and gain an understanding of the methodology of science, rather than factual recall.


Specific objectives of the program include the following:

Implement a weather and climate curriculum that teaches skills required by Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP).

Provide a hands-on, place-based educational experience where students have an opportunity to use scientific equipment (e.g., thermometers, anemometers, condensation particles counters, and barometers).

Provide a three-day program consisting of an introduction, field experience, and follow-up to help students grasp concepts and apply them to other school studies.

Provide all participating students with understanding of climate, weather, and climate change.

Currently, approximately 250 students annually participate in the SPL 5th and 6th grade weather and climate education program. SPL’s director, Dr. Hallar, and site manager, Ian McCubbin, initiated the climate and weather program in 2006, with two schools. Due to the overwhelming response of the community (including newspaper articles; messages and letters from administrators, parents, and teachers), we decided to continue the program. In 2007, Dr. Hallar and Ms. Jenn Wright designed the current curriculum.


The SPL program now includes five schools and is a three day event for each school. During the first day, educators and a SPL scientist visit each classroom for two hours to introduce concepts of climate, weather and the science of climate change as well as teach students how to use scientific equipment. During the field program on the second day, students measure and record information about temperature, pressure, relative humidity, wind speed, and particle concentration while they travel to SPL via the gondola (in winter) or SUVs (in fall). Once at the laboratory, students meet with SPL scientists to tour the facility, discuss SPL research activities, and explore application of these activities to their curriculum. At the end of the day, each student has completed a data sheet. Following the field trip, SPL scientists visit the school for a follow-up to help students grasp concepts, represent their collected data...

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© 2015 Storm Peak Laboratory
Storm Peak Laboratory is operated by the Desert Research Institute (DRI) Division of Atmospheric Sciences (DAS). DRI is a branch of the Nevada System of Higher Education and is committed to continuing research and education programs in the atmospheric sciences. DRI is an equal opportunity service provider and employer. DRI is a permittee of the Medicine-Bow Routt National Forest. 

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