Tornado Alley

September 15th, 2010 - August 31st, 2013 | PROJECT

Tornado Alley is a large-format 2D/3D film and comprehensive outreach program exploring the science behind severe weather events. The project focuses on cutting-edge developments in the fields of meteorology and earth science, demonstrating weather monitoring technologies. The project spotlights the current research of the VORTEX 2 (V2) project--the most ambitious effort ever to understand the origins, structure and evolution of tornadoes. The principle target audiences are science museum audiences, with additional special attention to under-served, rural mid-western communities, which will be served by digital 3D screenings. The film will be produced by Graphic Films and Giant Screen Films and distributed by Giant Screen Films. The Franklin Institute will create and manage outreach to professional audiences. Informal Learning Solutions will conduct formative evaluation; RMC Research Corporation will conduct summative evaluation of the project. The film, produced by Paul Novros (PI) and directed by Sean Casey, will collaborate closely with the V2 team, led by Dr. Josh Wurman, and consult with the project advisors to assure clarity and accuracy of the science being presented. A distance-learning initiative to serve educators--both formal and informal--will be managed by Karen Elinich (co-PI) of The Franklin Institute. The project's innovative outreach strategies leverage the mobility of the tornado intercept vehicle (TIV) built by Sean Casey, and the Doppler on Wheels and MGAUS (weather balloon vehicles) to bring scientists and weather-monitoring technology into direct contact with audiences. Outreach to underserved audiences, especially rural audiences, will provide opportunities for interactions with V2 PIs and their students, who serve as role models in science careers. In addition, cyber infrastructure will allow groups of educators to interact remotely with V2 researchers and experience visualizations of weather data. The film and ancillary materials will be translated into Spanish. The project serves as a model for the dissemination of the methods and results of a specific major NSF hard-science research endeavor to the general public through ISE products and activities. The goal of the project is for the audience to increase their knowledge and understanding of the scientific process, learn what meteorologists do, what technologies are used in meteorology and weather science and the factors and forces in meteorological events. It is intended that young audience members will also develop and interest in weather science and potential careers in science and engineering. In the first five years of the film\'s release, the audience is anticipated at 7 million plus. In addition, the live outreach events are expected to engage approximately 40,000-60,000 individuals.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

Tornado Alley Giant Screen Film Summative Evaluation

Team Members

Paul Novros, Principal Investigator, Graphic Films
Karen Elinich, Co-Principal Investigator, Franklin Institute


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 1010884
Funding Amount: 2300000


Access and Inclusion: English Language Learners | Rural
Audience: Educators | Teachers | General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Geoscience and geography | Technology
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Community Outreach Programs | Films and IMAX | Media and Technology | Public Programs