COE faculty member presents at NSTA conference

Nov 20, 2020 | Education and Human Sciences

Whether the size of a golf ball or a pellet, these chunks of ice can do damage to person and property, but they are a fascinating weather phenomenon. Because of the interest, one Louisiana Tech College of Education faculty member recently spoke about how to engage middle schoolers in understanding hail and other weather concepts.

Chris Campbell, a UTeachTech instructor, discussed “Hands-On Weather Unit for Middle Schoolers” at a recent National Science Teaching Association conference.

“This particular unit is part of the new science curriculum, OpenSciEd, which is approved by the state Department of Education and is being used by many school districts,” Campbell said. “I was one of the trainers for this unit when we redelivered to Monroe City, Ouachita and Lincoln Parish teachers a few summers ago — and I really like it!”

Campbell discussed how teachers can engage in a three-dimensional lab-driven approach to answering the question of why hail falls at some times but not others. The research allows teachers to kick off a weather unit with an engaging phenomena and offers hands-on activities for students investigating weather.

“I think it’s important not only because observing and explaining weather phenomena is listed throughout the state science standards, but science is about helping people understand the natural world, and weather is a huge part of that,” he said. “If students are not engaged, they don’t learn as much! Once a teacher has their attention and piques their curiosity, the sky’s the limit on what they can learn.”

During the presentation, Campbell discussed how he had taught the weather unit multiple times and wished he had been able to use some of the resources available now.

Starting with local events, such as hail, allows teachers to start engaging their students with interesting scientific phenomena.

“Here in Louisiana, we get a variety of weather,” Campbell said in the presentation. “We get thunderstorms and occasionally hail, and it’s a real easy way to engage our students because it’s very common.”

He added that the unit was easy to adjust to various regions, depending on the weather in the teacher’s area.

The conference was sponsored/organized by the National Science Teaching Association, and Campbell’s presentation was part of the National Earth Science Teachers Association block of presentations. Campbell serves as the Region IV Director for NSTA.

Campbell works primarily with the UTeachTech program and is a faculty member in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Leadership; he is also part of the Science and Technology Education Center (SciTEC) team within the College of Education, helping provide STEM professional development and outreach across the region. Tech is one of only two university Professional Development vendors for the OpenSciEd training for the state. Diane Madden and Campbell have participated in several trainings and redelivery of these units. If teachers or districts are interested in acquiring this training, they can contact Madden at

For more information, Zoom recording of the session can be found at