Jan 25-Apr 16, 2021
Credit: 3 graduate
Instructor(s): Robyn Gotz

Course Description

Registration begins on October 26th - please register for CRN 34157.
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 fall. 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.


Robyn Gotz, MS.

Robyn graduated from Montana State University in 2013 with a Master of Science in Earth Sciences. Her graduate research focused on spatial changes in physical snow properties as a result of using avalanche explosives. Robyn has an extensive background in snow avalanche work as a 10-year member of the Snowmass Ski Patrol in Snowmass Village, CO and a 3-year member of the La Parva Ski Patrol in La Parva, Chile. Robyn is currently pursuing her PhD in higher education and focusing her current research on geoscience and online education. As a faculty member of the Department of Earth Sciences, Robyn has taught a range of classes including, Introduction to Earth System Sciences (face-to-face and online), Introduction to Snow Science, Weather and Climate (face-to-face and online), Oceanography, Earth Materials, and has co-taught Snow Dynamics and Accumulation. Robyn also teaches K-14 Earth System Sciences, Middle School Earth System Science, Weather and Climate for Teachers, and Understanding Climate Change for Teachers as part of the National Teacher’s Enhancement Network (NTEN) and Master of Science in Science Education (MSSE) programs.


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:

  • Go to the Student Accounts page.
  • On the left navigation bar, click "Tuition & Fee Charts--Current & Historical."
  • Then click "Online Programs Only."
  • Click the link appropriate to your semester and status as a student.

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

  • You can purchase one of the following physical textbook options or an etext if you prefer. You do not need a text that comes with access to Mastering Meteorology or My Meteorology Lab.

    AGUADO & BURT: UNDERSTANDING WEATHER & CLIMATE, Either the 6th or 7th edition will be fine for the class.

Teacher/participants are responsible for purchasing the required text for the course on their own before the course begins. Prices vary depending on whether you buy the 6th or 7th edition and whether you buy the text new or used.

Computer Requirements:

  • Internet access
  • A device and browser that pass the system check for Brightspace LE, MSU's learning management system.

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/MSSE by email at

For questions regarding course content, please contact Robyn Gotz at

How to Register

You must be accepted as a student to Montana State University to take this course.

Learn how to apply.

After your application has been accepted, you will register via MSU's online registration system, MyInfo.

Registration requires a PIN number. Learn how to find your PIN.

Once you have your PIN, learn how to register through MyInfo.