Montana State University

ERTH 591-801: Weather and Climate for Teachers

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Feb 01-Apr 22, 2016
Credit: 3 graduate
Instructor(s): Jordy Hendrikx

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Course Description

Few subjects within Earth Sciences are as far reaching as the study of weather (meteorology) and climate (climatology). We plan our days based on the current weather, plant food supplies based on seasonal forecasts, and develop economies based on regional climate. Weather and climate also explain major biogeographic patterns and influence physical processes shaping Earth. With unprecedented climate changes likely inevitable in our lifetimes, the study of weather and climate has also taken on added importance in recent decades. For these reasons and many more, it is imperative that we equip our teacher and educators with the tools to better prepare and motivate the next generation of scientists in this field. In this course we will build a physical understanding of how Earth systems interact to create the weather we see on a daily basis and the climatic patterns that emerge at larger spatial and temporal scales.

The course goals are to:
  • Increase weather and climate content knowledge,
  • Increase pedagogical skills related to teaching weather and climate,
  • Create a "tool-kit" of teaching activities relating to weather and climate, and
  • Engender changes in teacher-participants' classrooms that lead to an increased quantity and quality of weather and climate related instruction.
These goals will be accomplished through a highly structured series of readings, web based activities using a range of on-line resources, development and maintenance of a local weather journal, and the development and peer review of weather and climate class room activities. This course is specially designed for practicing science teachers at the middle to high school level.

This course is a prerequisite for our new course, Understanding Climate Change, which will be offered this summer. It is also part of the proposed Graduate Certificate in Science Teaching in Climate Change.

Meeting Place and Times

Teachers log into the course at a time of day that best fits their schedule. It is necessary to connect at least 4 - 6 times per week and spend 10 - 13 hours each week while the course is in session, either online or offline working on course related assignments, to stay current and successfully complete this 3 credit graduate course.


Jordy Hendrikx, PhD. Earth Science Department, Montana State University
Jordy is the Director of the Snow & Avalanche Laboratory and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at Montana State University. Jordy has undertaken research on snow, glaciers, avalanches and climate change around the world, and has considerable experience with applied climatology and meteorology research. Jordy has worked extensively with avalanches programmes, glacier monitoring programmes and set up a National Snow and Ice monitoring Network in New Zealand. He understands weather and climate from the ground-up with hands on experience with both the research and applied sides of this field. Prior to working for Montana State University, Jordy worked as a Snow and Ice Scientist at NIWA (National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research) in Christchurch, New Zealand (similar to NCAR in the USA).


Bachelor’s degree; two years of teaching experience; an introduction to physical geography course, or equivalent.

Target Audience

9-12 grade science teachers who are currently certified with one year of teaching experience.

Time Commitment:

10-13 hours per week. If you are unfamiliar with this field of study and/or method of delivery, you may require more time.

Tuition and Fees

If you are accepted into a qualified online program, see the appropriate MSU Online Only Tuition and Fee table below:

If you are also taking a face-to-face course, please refer to the MSU Fee Schedules.

Teachers are on their own to purchase the text listed below.

Required Books/Materials

  • Aguado, E., and Burt, J. E. (2013) Understanding Weather and Climate: Plus MyMeteorologyLab Access Card Package, 6th Edition, Prentice Hall.
    Paper Bound with Access Card, 576 pp
    ISBN-10: 0321833597 • ISBN-13: 9780321833594
    Be sure and get the version of the text with MyMeteorologyLab.


    Understanding Weather and Climate Plus MasteringMeteorology with eText -- Access Card Package, 7/E
    by Edward Aguado, San Diego State University
    James E. Burt, University of Wisconsin - Madison
    ISBN-10: 0321984439 ISBN-13: 9780321984432
    ©2015 Prentice Hall Paper Package, 608 pp
    Published 12/19/2014

The required text for this course is Understanding Weather and Climate. We want to let you know as you go to purchase the text, that either the 6th or the 7th edition will work. The 6th will be much cheaper and while there have been some changes in the 7th, you can manage with the 6th Edition. More critically however is the E-access component, MyMeterorologyLab Access". If you are purchasing the 6th edition, We suggest that you do not buy MyMeterorologyLab until after the course has begun, as we have had occasions where there have been problems gaining the appropriate access to MyMeterorologyLab when purchased anywhere other than the Pearson website. In this case, we suggest you buy just the text before the course begins and once we start the class, you can buy the online access component from the Pearson website. This is the best way to make sure that your code will work. On the other hand, if you are buying the 7th edition, you can buy the package, Understanding Weather and Climate Plus MasteringMeteorology with eText -- Access Card Package, 7/E from the Pearson website at (just do a search for Understanding Weather and Climate by Aguado).

Teacher/participants are responsible for purchasing the required text for the course on their own before the course begins.

Computer Requirements:

  • Computer running Windows XP Service Pack 3 or newer or Mac OS X.5 (Leopard) or higher
  • CD-ROM drive
  • Internet access

This course uses a learning management system. You will learn more closer to the course start date.

For More Information

regarding registration, please contact NTEN at (800)282-6062 or (406)994-6812, or by email at

For questions regarding course content, please contact Jordy Hendrikx at

How to Register

Register Online

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