Researchers in tent, participating in Andean Field education and researchThe major goal for education in the ICECAP is to provide educational materials and resources regarding the significance and science of tropical Andean precipitation. Education components build on recent partnerships with Andean partners, existing outreach and education activities originally developed as part of the NASA-funded Climate Action Network through Direct Observations and Outreach (CAN-DOO) project at Appalachian State University, and a seven-year collaboration between Appalachian State University and the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation (GMSF) focused on observing precipitation and wind in an extreme mountain environment.

Photo Credit: Tracie Seimon

Educational Activities

  1. ASu researcher with children from Andes MountainsRecruitment and training of citizen science participants to make precipitation observations
  2. Study Abroad
  3. Undergraduate Curriculum
  4. Graduate and undergraduate student involvement in all phases of research
  5. Kindergarten through 12th grade science and global learning activities
  6. Integration of research and education through the Andean field education and research program

Photo Credit: Darcy Grimes

Citizen Science

Quechua citizen science precipitation observer in the Cordillera VilcanotaIn 2012 project team members recruited and trained two local Quechua citizen science precipitation observers in the Cordillera Vilcanota. These observers follow established protocols for measuring liquid equivalent precipitation, snowfall, and snow depth in accordance with the CoCoRaHS network. Citizen science participants will play an important role observing precipitation and classifying snow particles. 8 citizen science participants will be recruited in total for the project to make daily observations of precipitation and additional measurements of snowfall properties, including snow particle type and degree of riming. These citizen science observations will be used in conjunction with automated precipitation sensors, some of which will be co-located for quality control purposes and higher temporal resolution data.

Photo Credit: Tracie Seimon

Study Abroad

ASu Study Abroad students

Since 1999, Baker Perry, PhD., has directed 9 different summer field programs in the tropical Andes: 4 in Bolivia, 2 in Ecuador, and 4 in Peru. The newest project offers three additional two-week field programs in the Cordillera Vilcanota of Peru during July of 2014, 2016, and 2018. Approximately 10 Appalachian students will participate each year as part of the Appalachian Overseas Education Program (AOEP). Courses will offer six hours of cross-listed undergraduate and graduate credit, Andean Mountain Environments & Andean Mountain Meteorology, and intensive field education and research experiences servicing high-elevation meteorological stations, digging snow pits, and mapping glacier extent.

Photo Credit: Patience Perry

Undergraduate Curriculum

ICECAPP field research

ICECAP expands and enhances existing undergraduate curriculum activities centered on the Andean summer field research and education program. Project activities will also enhance existing semester-based courses at Appalachian State, including Global Climate Change, Weather and Climate, Environmental Remote Sensing, Mountain Meteorology, and Synoptic and Regional Climatology. New laboratory exercises will be developed that relate closely to project investigations in the Andes and that are hands-on and inquiry-based endeavors, allowing students to develop research questions, make observations, analyze data to test hypotheses, and form conclusions. Three modules will be developed for introductory atmospheric science courses focused on:

  1. Precipitation field instrumentation
  2. Vertical structure of tropical Andean precipitation
  3. Precipitation-glacier-hydrology interactions

These modules will be tested in introductory courses at Appalachian State and North Carolina State Universities, and then uploaded to the Science Education Resource Center (SERC) website at Carleton College.

For students interested in Research Opportunities visit the Center for Appalachian Studies.

Photo Credit: Patience Perry

Undergraduate and Graduate Research

ICECAPP field research

Appalachian State University actively seeks to involve students in research. The Office of Student Research (OSR) helps to match student interest with faculty expertise, provides modest funding for research equipment and field work, and provides competitive funding for student travel to present research results. This projects provides an opportunity to provide additional research support for both undergraduate and graduate students.

Undergraduate Research: At the undergraduate level, formal opportunities are offered to one student per year to work closely on integrated research, education, and outreach activities. An additional undergraduate student is encouraged to apply for an undergraduate research assistantship and international travel grant from the OSR. Students assist with installation and servicing of equipment and data collection from precipitation stations in the tropical Andes. In addition, students can analyze data, write Honor's Theses, and contribute to the development of peer-reviewed manuscripts.

Graduate Research: Graduate students at ASU are expected to conduct innovative original research as part of a master's thesis. This project funds one graduate student per year to contribute to research, education, and outreach activities. Graduate students are expected to have basic Spanish proficiency, complete a master's thesis focusing on one of the topics outlined in the research plan, and work with project collaborators to develop two manuscripts based on thesis results for submission to appropriate peer-reviewed journals.

Photo Credit: Patience Perry

K-12 Educational Activities: Watauga County Schools serve a diverse student population, with relatively high numbers of students from economically disadvantaged families characteristic of the rural southern Appalachian Mountains. Educational activities targeting K-12 teachers and students in the local Watauga County School system include:

  1. Recruitment of teachers to participate in the Andean field experience.
  2. Development of educational activities that incorporate project results that are directly aligned with the state science standards, promotion of STEM education principles, and fostering of global learning.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number AGS-1347179. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.