Tornado Alley Screening Highlights ISE, Hazards Research, and NSF Support

May 29, 2012 – 4:54 pm

Earlier this spring, Giant Screen Films was pleased to partner with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History to host a special screening of Tornado Alley for an enthusiastic audience of DC influencers. Recent tornado outbreaks have continued to provoke media attention and questions about the nature of these destructive phenomena. This interest provided a timely opportunity to feature Tornado Alley‘s educational message, underscoring the efforts of scientists and government agencies to improve our predictions—and ultimately save lives.

“It was very rewarding to share Tornado Alley and its outreach program as a model,” said Deborah Raksany, Co-Producer and VP for Giant Screen Films. “We were thrilled to acknowledge the importance of NSF’s support in communicating the achievements of the VORTEX2 initiative featured in the film, and in delivering meaningful impacts for learners in museums, science centers, and underserved communities.”

Tornado Alley—and its extensive outreach activities—were funded by NSF’s Informal Science Education program, in partnership with NSF’s Physical and Dynamic Meteorology program and the special programs of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and Lower Atmospheric Facilities Oversight Section.

“Those of us in GEO are delighted with the response to this groundbreaking film, which offers an immersive view not only of the atmosphere’s tremendous power but also of the pivotal role of NSF-supported scientists in exploring it,” said Dr. Bradley Smull, NSF Program Director for Physical and Dynamic Meteorology in the Division of Atmospheric & Geospace Sciences.

Staff members from NSF, NOAA, and other federal agencies filled the event’s audience, together with representatives from Congressional Committee and Member offices, scientific associations, media, and local educators. Special guests from NSF included Dr. Cora Marrett, Deputy Director for the Foundation, and Dr. John Cherniavsky, Acting Division Director, Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings, as well as program officers from ISE and GEO. Project advisors and VORTEX2 scientists Dr. Paul Markowski and Dr. Yvette Richardson, both of Penn State, attended with their families.

“Our support for Tornado Alley represents an important collaboration between ISE and GEO,” said Valentine Kass, NSF Program Director for Informal Science Education, “and it embodies the concept of ‘One NSF,’ a vision that’s driving the Foundation. This project is a great example of the power of ISE efforts to highlight NSF’s research programs and communicate the work of scientists, and especially to inspire lifelong learners to explore science as a passion and a pursuit.”

Described as “… spectacular, awe-inspiring fun” by The Boston Globe, Tornado Alley has been seen by over 3,000,000 viewers around the globe. Major funding was provided by the National Science Foundation. The film is a collaboration of award-winning producers Giant Screen Films, Graphic Films and Sean Casey, with support from the Giant Dome Theater Consortium, a newly-founded partnership comprising seven leading museum institutions.