Monday, March 9, 2015

What’s the Weather Heather?: An Interactive Blog to Learn about Atmospheric Science

Digital media has become a forefront for people to turn to in order to get their daily weather forecast. What if this digital media could also be used to help people learn about the atmosphere and meteorological phenomena? For my capstone project I will be using digital media and creating a weather blog. This weather blog will be informative and engage the public. This weather blog will be driven by viewer’s comments and suggestions. For example, if a person in the comments asks the difference between freezing rain, sleet, and hail the next blog post I will answer that question. I want this blog to be interactive between the readers and myself. In order for this interaction to happen I need to gain a following for my weather blog. To do this I will be making use of social media.
Image from:
I will be utilizing Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share my blog. I will also be using the hashtag #WeatherwithHeather so that I can know if people are engaging with my weather blog. This hashtag can be used on all these social media sites. I will be posting to the blog on Thursdays. If I find this day to not draw in many people I will change the day of posting. When I publish a new post I will make sure to notify my viewers by posting the blog link on my social media. I will be on the blog frequently to read viewers comments and/or suggestions to make sure the interactive aspect of my blog is present. Being interactive with my audience is essential in getting people to learn about meteorology in a fun and different way! 

Besides producing the weekly weather blog, I will also be producing and delivering a paper that will assess my capstone project. This paper will look at various components including success and failures of the blog and any changes I could have made to make my blog better. Background research as well as any research I did while blogging will be tied into the paper. This paper will help bring my whole capstone project together. 

So how does this weather blog relate to Interdisciplinary Studies? This project will be drawing from various elements and theories of Interdisciplinary Studies and be used in creating this weather blog. The blog follows the transdisciplinary approach in that this it involves academic and nonacademic participants and each have a stake on the outcome of how this blog will turn out. More importantly though the blog follows interdisciplinary in that the weather blog will be drawing from multiple disciplines and integrate them together in order answer the questions presented in the blog. To ensure that this integration is successful, it is important to know and understand the epistemology of each discipline. Having an understanding of these epistemologies as well as their strengths and limitations will help in answering questions asked by the audience. Multiple perspectives can be looked at and then integrated to create a comprehensive and fuller understanding of what is being asked on the blog. I have to be careful though when researching to be aware of disciplinary bias. Knowing the limitations of expertise, being self-aware, having intellectual courage, and having respect for different viewpoints are all important to keep in mind when I research background information as well as the information I will be researching weekly. Lastly, I will be making use of the Broad Model to integrate the different disciplines in my project. This model uses all disciplinary tools as well as creates common ground among the disciplines so integration becomes possible. I want to make sure that the various disciplines I will be using in my project come together in writing my weekly posts. This will be seen by taking meteorological concepts and talking about them in a way that everyone will be able to understand.

I will be drawing from various fields/disciplines for research to create and write my weather blog. The most obvious discipline involved with my project is earth science and more specifically meteorology. The main portion of research will be in the meteorology field since my blog is weather based. This field offers plentiful research for my weather blog.
Image From: Heather Janssen 
So much research has been done in the weather world so it should be rather easy for me to find reliable sources when researching for my blog posts. Another field I will be making use of in my project is communication being more focused in social media. Social media is a big part of my capstone project so it is important for me to have background research on the most effective ways to use social media as well as using it in the proper manner. This field offers me better knowledge in how I should communicate with the audience from the blog and the importance of social media in getting my blog “out there.” A final field that is involved with my capstone project deals more with the background research for my blog. Researching science pedagogy will help me in learning about the different ways and methods people teach science to others. I can use these methods in my own blog to make sure that people will be understanding what I am writing about. This field offers a different way to look at my project as a whole in that the overall goal of the blog is get people to see that learning about science can be quite exciting! 

In order to keep on track with this project, I have created a timeline that I plan on sticking too to make sure I do not get behind. The following is my timeline: 

Part of Project
When to have complete
Literature Search Begin research week of March 15th  
-Have at least 9 sources found by March 31st 
-Read two articles, bring in notes and fill out chart for class by April 2nd
-All research found and notes taken for all sources by April 7rd

Project in Action First blog post the week of April 5th.
-Posting on Thursdays so first blog post on 4/9/15. 
-Have blog post written by Wednesday. Revise and review post Wednesday night 
-New posting every Thursday evening (day is subject to change).
-Commenting and reply throughout the week. 
Project Paper  Start paper the week of April 13th 
-Explain  your  project  (what  you  did  and  why),tie  your  project  to  your  major; tie  your  project  to  current  research  
    -Have these portions written by April 26th 
-Assess your project and conclusion
    -Have these portions written by May 1st 
-Finalize draft by May 3rd 
-Draft is due May 5th
-Finish revisions by May 7th  
-Post paper to blog by May 12th at 4:00 pm 
Project PPT Screencast  Begin working on screencast May 4th
-Have completed by Friday, May 8th
-Post screencast to blog by May 12th at 4:00 pm   
Project PPT Exam Begin PowerPoint May 9th
-Have completed by May 10th
-Bring PPT to final on May 12th at 5:00 pm 

I hope that this weather blog will spark the interest of the public to want to learn more about meteorology. I know many people are hesitant towards learning about different sciences because they can be complex. I plan on showing these people that science can be fun and not complicated. Specifically focusing on meteorology can introduce many to concepts and ideas they may have never heard about. I am looking forward to my first blog post in the coming weeks and showing others why meteorology is so interesting and exciting! 

Works Cited

Repko, Allen. Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies. LA: Sage Publications, 2013.


  1. OMG stop I love the title of this, that is just so cute and so informative I love it! I think that the incorporation of the blog posts with the social media side of things will help to bring things around full circle. You're right a lot of people are hesitant to learn about difficult sciences on their own, but making it more fun and interactive can be a great way to open the door for people. Just make sure that you're using laymans terms and 'dumbing it down' if you will just a little bit so that people that are not familiar with certain terms can become accustomed to them. Over all sounds like a great project can't wait to see the finished product!

  2. The name of your project is fantastic! It is very catchy! I also like the idea of using the #WeatherwithHeather. It will be very beneficial for promoting your blog. I also like how you want to create a paper that will include successes and failures of the blog. It is a great opportunity how to learn to create a successful blog which can help you in the future. I think that your blog has a big potential.

  3. Your title is adorable, I love it. It also seems like you've got this all figured out, it sounds really good. I also think your timeline sounds really solid. How are you going to start the blog? Are you going to "get the word out" before you start it so you have topics to discuss initially, or are you going to just start writing? I'm excited for you! It's something I'll totally share with people. (Also, my internet is STILLLLLL messed up, so this is the third time I've tried posting this comment so sorry if it posts multiple times!)

    1. That's crazy that you still have no internet! That would drive me insane! For my first blog post I plan on doing an introduction about me and the blog itself. I want to do this so my readers know that the blog will be driven by them.

  4. Ok, I do love it! I think one of the challenges of blogging is that your audience is not there when you begin. You have to build it. So I am curious about how you will populate the blog with questions before the audience is there. I know you have some ideas, and the social media research you do should help with that, but perhaps you need to think of a site that has multiple tabs, so you can have a reader questions section, but also perhaps other areas that will allow you to control the content more deliberately to help target and grow your audience. That could help with dealing with the demographics, too (perhaps a "Just For Kids" tab would help), since it's really hard to write for a "general" audience since your readers will be more apt to find you if they are really directly spoken to. Anyway, all of these things will come together as you go, I'm sure. It's a really neat idea, and I am not sure I have ever seen anything like this. Seems like big weather sites might be interested in linking to you eventually if you did a great job. The PSU meteorology program might also link to you from their site... I look forward to what your research teaches you about how to get this off the ground!

  5. Hi Heather - Neat project! I'm wondering how you'll overcome the challenge of delivering solid scientific info to a greater audience? What strategies and approaches do you think will best help you to achieve this goal? As a biologist who teaches to non-majors, I think this can be particularly challenging, but well worth the effort! - Dr. O'Donnell

  6. The first four steps in the Broad Model can be used to adjust my plans for my capstone project. The first step in the Broad Model deals with defining or stating the research question. This research question should be complex and researchable in an interdisciplinary sense. Reflecting on this step, I need to make sure my research question is focused and avoids bias (disciplinary and personal). Though my blog is weather based, my research deals with more of the teaching aspects of science as well as the importance of using social media in my blog.

    Step two is to justify using an interdisciplinary approach for my capstone project. To make sure an interdisciplinary approach is needed the problem or research question needs to be complex and insights are offered by two or more disciplines. The main two disciplines in my research are education and communications. Since it is important to address the problem comprehensively, I am researching each of these disciplines to make sure I am doing it using an interdisciplinary process. A last justification in this step is that the problem is an unresolved issue or unmet societal need. Society has problems with understanding some meteorological phenomena. This weather blog will help to meet this societal need.

    The third step in the Broad Model deals with identifying relevant disciplines to the problem or question. While putting this project together, I was having a difficult time thinking of relevant disciplines besides earth science and communications. After some help, I was able to identify education as another relevant discipline. Decomposing the problem will help me make sure I identified all potentially relevant disciplines that I may have overlooked or reveal any gaps in the problem. Externalizing the problem will help to see if I need to make any adjustments to my research. Visually seeing the variables to the problem will help me to see if I am on the right track and what I need to focus on.

    The fourth step in the Broad Model is conducting a literature search. I am in the process of doing this now and I am having difficulty with finding reveal sources for the social media aspect of my research. I think I will need to adjust where I am looking for these sources and what I am actually searching. Creating a data table will help me to organize the sources I find and weed out the ones that reveal to not be helpful. These first four steps help me in understanding the importance of the research aspect of this project. I have planned for all my research to be completed by April 7th but I will adjust that date if needed. If I find that my sources are not what I need, I will go back and search for different sources to ensure I have the best insights as possible.