Meteorology & Visual Arts

Course Title and Number:           Meteorology & Visual Arts          METEO/ART 51N

Prerequisites:  None.

Credits:  3

Course Attributes:  General Education, Interdomain (N)  

This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the semester. 

  • Tuesday lectures are from 1:35 – 2:50 pm. We will meet in 261 Ag Engineering through Tuesday 3 September and in 607 Walker Building starting Tuesday 10 September and for the remainder of the semester.  
  • Thursday studio times are from 1:35 – 4:35 pm in 204 Patterson Building.


Kimberly Flick, School of Visual Arts, 103 Arts Cottage, E-mail:  Office hours: Tuesdays 3-4 pm, or by appointment.  

Professor David Stensrud, Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, 504 Walker Building, E-mail:  Office hours:  Mondays 11:00 am -12:00 noon; Fridays 2:00 – 3:00 pm, or by appointment.  

Course Description:  This course examines the inter-relationship between what we know and what we see, through an introductory exploration of art and science.  Engaging students in the study of weather formation, mainly clouds, artistic depictions within the genre of landscape, and the expressed practice of painting; fosters the development of observational skills necessary for reading the landscape and interpreting collected data.  Students will explore the processes leading to cloud formation and artistic depiction, cloud types and layering, cloud interactions with light, signs of severe weather in clouds, and repeatable cloud structures seen at all scales and how these can be represented in a two-dimensional form.  Rainbows, halos, and other optical effects in the sky will be surveyed and painted.  Data from weather instruments and the individual artist will be collected, shared, and analyzed.  We will discuss inductive and deductive reasoning, fast and slow thinking, and different ways to think about the world.  Climate change will be explored as will the effects of the studio environment on art.  Communication using numbers, visual depictions, and artistic works will be discussed and recommendations on ways to better integrate art into science, and science into art, will be sought. 

General Education Learning Objectives:

  • Key Literacies
  • Critical and Analytical Thinking
  • Integrative Thinking
  • Creative Thinking 

Course Learning Objectives:

  • Explain the methods of inquiry in the natural science fields and describe how the contributions of these fields complement inquiry in other areas
  • Construct evidence-based explanations of natural phenomena
  • Demonstrate informed understandings of scientific claims and their applications
  • Evaluate the quality of the data, methods, and inferences used to generate scientific knowledge
  • Explain the methods of inquiry in arts fields and describe how the contributions of these fields complement inquiry in other areas
  • Demonstrate an expanded knowledge and comprehension of the role that the arts play in various aspects of human endeavor
  • Demonstrate competence in the creation of works of art and design
  • Demonstrate competence in analysis, critical thinking and interpretive reasoning through the exploration of creative works

Required textbooks:  None.  However, the course requires a sketchbook and other art materials.  A list of these materials will be provided on the first day of class. 

Assistance with Textbooks

Penn State honors and values the socioeconomic diversity of our students. If you require assistance with the costs of textbooks for this course, contact the Office of Student Care and Advocacy (120 Boucke Building, 863-4926, For additional need related to socioeconomic status please visit


Lecture (L), Studio (S), Quiz (Q), Sketchbook (SB), Painting Assignment (P

L/S  Day Topic *Homework and Painting Assignments

  1. 8/27 Seeking Connections SB* Initial Page
  2. 8/29 Seeking Connections Artists, Scientists & Polymaths SB* Inspiration
  3. 9/3 Cloud Types SB* Cloud ID Chart
  4. 9/5 Cloud Types P#1 Sky & Silhouette Painting Assignment
  5. 9/10 What Causes Clouds to Form? Q1 SB* Cloudscapes prints (2)
  6. 9/12 What Causes Clouds to Form? P#2 Sky Stories: Cloud ID Painting Assignment
  7. 9/17 What Causes Clouds to Form? SB* Cloud studies
  8. 9/19 What Causes Clouds to Form? P#3 Clouds in Atmospheric Perspective Paintings
  9. 9/24 Light and Darkness Q2 SB* Nocturne Interior Study
  10. 9/26 Light and Darkness P#4 Sfumato & Spherical Shapes Painting Assign
  11. 10/1 Interesting Atmospheric Effects SB* Unusual Lighting Study
  12. 10/3 Interesting Atmospheric Effects P#5 Night Sky: Special Effects Painting Assignment
  13. 10/8 Reasoning in Art and Meteorology SB*Lifted-ink: Tape Works
  14. 10/10 Mid-Term Exam- Turn in Sketchbook and Paintings for Grading/Feedback

  15. 10/15 Layering SB*Map & Weather Symbols
  16. 10/17 Layering P#6 Layered Landscape Painting Assignment
  17. 10/22 Collecting Data! SB*Field Study Sheet
  18. 10/24 Collecting Data! P#7 Project Postcard Painting Assignment
  19. 10/29 Data Analysis and Quality SB* Data Word Cloud
  20. 10/31 Data Analysis and Quality P#8 Poster Painting Assignment
  21. 11/5 Severe Weather, Q3 SB* Draw Density Current, Watch: Before the Flood
  22. 11/7 Severe Weather P#9 Precipitation Painting Assignment
  23. 11/12 Climate and Climate Change SB* Art Activist Drawing, Watch William Kentridge
  24. 11/14 Prepare materials for final project      P#10 Climate-scape Painting Assignment
  25. 11/19 Repeatable Structures SB* Develop final project
  26. 11/21 Repeatable Structures Work on final project
    1. __________________________________________________________________

                11/26              THANKSGIVING BREAK
             11/28              THANKSGIVING DAY________________________________      

  27. 12/3                Communication in Weather and Art, Q4  Work on final project
  28. 12/5                Communication in Weather and Art          Work on final project
  29. 12/10              Putting Your Knowledge to Work              Final project presentations
  30.  12/12              Putting Your Knowledge to Work              Share favorite paintings of semester 

*additional homework can be assigned during class.  The list of homework shown on this syllabus is intended as a guide, but you are expected to keep up-to-date on assignments and to practice painting regularly during the semester to develop your skills.  

Internet Materials: 

Cloud Atlas available at

A cloud type quiz can be found at 

Before the Flood documentary: 

William Kentridge documentary: 

Assessment Policy:

The grades for this course will be determined as follows.  Total possible points that can be earned by the students is 100.  Points 90 > A.  80 - 90 B.  70 - 80 C.  60 - 70 D. < 60 F.  Pluses and minuses given as appropriate.  The grading is based upon 

  • Four quizzes, each worth 5 points 20 points
  • Mid-term Exam 20 points
  • Mid-term Painting Assignments 10 points
  • Sketchbook and Painting Assignments 20 points
  • Final Project 20 points
  • Class participation 10 points 

Quizzes and the mid-term exam are given during regular course lecture/studio times.  Students who miss class for legitimate reasons will be given a reasonable opportunity to make up missed work, including exams and quizzes.  You should notify the instructors ahead of time if you know that you will miss a class.  

Academic Integrity:

This course follows the Penn State defines academic integrity as "the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner." Academic integrity includes "a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception." In particular, the University defines plagiarism as "the fabrication of information and citations; submitting other's work from professional journals, books, articles, and papers; submission of other student's papers, lab results or project reports and representing the work as one's own." Penalties for violations of academic integrity may include course failure. To learn more, see Penn State's "Plagiarism Tutorial for Students." 

Course Copyright

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws. 

For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site constitutes a violation of this policy. 

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources (SDR) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: ( For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources website ( 

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation: If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations. 


This course abides by the Penn State Attendance Policy E-11:, and Conflict Exam Policy 44-35: Please also see Illness Verification Policy:, and Religious Observance Policy: Students who miss class for legitimate reasons will be given a reasonable opportunity to make up missed work, including exams and quizzes.  Students are not required to secure the signature of medical personnel in the case of illness or injury and should use their best judgment on whether they are well enough to attend class or not; the University Health Center will not provide medical verification for minor illnesses or injuries. Other legitimate reasons for missing class include religious observance, military service, family emergencies, regularly scheduled university-approved curricular or extracurricular activities, and post-graduate, career-related interviews when there is no opportunity for students to re-schedule these opportunities (such as employment and graduate school final interviews).  Students who encounter serious family, health, or personal situations that result in extended absences should contact the Office of the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs (AVPSA) and Student Care and Advocacy for help:  Whenever possible, students participating in University-approved activities should submit to the instructor a Class Absence Form:, at least one week prior to the activity. 

Weather Delays

Campus emergencies, including weather delays, are announced on Penn State News and communicated to cell phones, email, the Penn State Facebook page, and Twitter via PSUAlert (Sign up at: 

Reporting Bias-Motivated Incidents

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff.  Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated ( and can be reported through Educational Equity via the Report Bias webpage

Counseling and Psychological Services

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing.  The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings.  These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation.  Services include the following: 

Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park  (CAPS): 814-863-0395
Counseling and Psychological Services at Commonwealth Campuses
Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741 

Penn State E-mail Accounts

All official communications from Penn State are sent to students' Penn State e-mail accounts. Be sure to check your Penn State account regularly, or forward your Penn State e-mail (see to your preferred e-mail account, so you don't miss any important information. 

Deferred Grades

If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time for reasons that are beyond your control, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor, following Penn State Deferred Grade Policy 48-40 ( To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to the instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. Non-emergency permission for filing a deferred grade must be requested before the beginning of the final examination period. It is up to the instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If permission is granted, you will work with the instructor to establish a communication plan and a clear schedule for completion.  If, for any reason, the course work for the deferred grade is not complete by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript. 

Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made. 

Technical Requirements

For this course, we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined on the Dutton Institute Technical Requirements page (, including the requirements listed for same-time, synchronous communications. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the ITS Help Desk ( 


The term "Netiquette" refers to the etiquette guidelines for electronic communications, such as e-mail and bulletin board postings. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions, but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of forum messages. Please review some general Netiquette guidelines that should be followed when communicating in this course. 

Disruptive Behavior

Behavior that disrupts normal classroom activities will not be tolerated, in accordance with Items 9 and 14 in the Student Code of Conduct


In the case of an emergency, we will follow the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Critical Incident Plan (  In the event of an evacuation, we will follow posted evacuation routes and gather at the Designated Meeting Site.  Evacuation routes for all EMS buildings are available at  For more information regarding actions to take during particular emergencies, please see the Penn State Emergency Action Guides

Mandated Reporting Statement

Penn State’s policies require me, as a faculty member, to share information about incidents of sex-based discrimination and harassment (discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and retaliation) with Penn State’s Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinators, regardless of whether the incidents are stated to me in person or shared by students as part of their coursework.  For more information regarding the University's policies and procedures for responding to reports of sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct, please visit Penn State's Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention & Response website. 

Additionally, I am required to make a report on any reasonable suspicion of child abuse in accordance with the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law

Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect

Penn State is “committed to creating an educational environment which is free from intolerance directed toward individuals or groups and strives to create and maintain an environment that fosters respect for others” as stated in Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance. All members of this class are expected to contribute to a respectful, welcoming and inclusive environment and to interact with civility.

For additional information, see:

Disclaimer Statement

Please note that the specifics of this Course Syllabus can be changed at any time, and you will be responsible for abiding by any such changes. Changes to the syllabus shall also be given to the student in written (paper or electronic) form.