Item: Snowpack study in technical communication
Title: Snowpack study in technical communication
Proceedings: Proceedings of the 1996 International Snow Science Workshop, Banff, Canada
Authors: Richard M. Chisholm, P O. Box 104, 57 Mill Road, Rumney NH 03266, e-mail: email@example.com
Abstract: In the section I teach of Technical Writing at Plymouth State College in New Hampshire, students learn to handle the content, form, and style of scientific reports by writing about a snowpack. In this context, snowpack study requires students to learn and apply only elementary concepts of snow physics, but it establishes common experiences in science for students with non-scientific backgrounds. During an initial field trip, students examine the layers in a snowpack and observe the various characteristics of snow. For two weeks after the first field observations, students study local weather history and learn basic concepts of snow science, snow stratigraphy, and snow metamorphism. Based on their new understanding of snow, they hypothesize what changes have probably occurred in the snowpack, and they learn to identify types of snow particles in the field. During a second field trip, students re-examine the snowpack, compare their hypotheses with actual conditions they observe, and account for persistence and change in the snowpack during the two week interval. At each stage in the snowpack study unit, students keep a log of their observations and write up their findings in a series of technical reports. They also keep a journal of their experiences and write essays in which they examine their personal experience in snowpack study and assess the snowpack study unit. Finally, they compile their reports, then edit and polish them.
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Keywords: snowpack study, snow science, science writing, science teaching, teaching technical writing
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