This portfolio page lists many of the projects Randy Russell has worked on. Whenever possible, project descriptions include links to the project resources and screenshots or other graphics that illustrate the projects. Some items are in private, password-protected systems; are no longer active; or are not web-based. In those cases, I’ve tried to provide a flavor of the resources, though you cannot experience them directly yourself.


Lesson Plans

NASA Mars Helicopter Ingenuity

Mars Helicopter Lesson Plan

Inspired by the the flight of NASA’ Ingenuity helicopter on Mars in 2021, this engineering thought experiment guides students through the challenges of making a helicopter fly in the thin Martian atmosphere, which has less than 1% of Earth’s atmospheric density.

Measuring Density by Bending Light activity

Measuring Density by Bending Light

In this physical and virtual lab activity, students estimate the densities of different substances by observing the degree of refraction of a beam of light. This lesson is part of the Satellites and Weather Teaching Box, which explains how spacecraft measure aspects of the atmosphere by detecting the refraction of radio waves.

Drone Retrieving Payload activity - Engineering Experiences

Engineering Experiences with Drones

This series of lessons teaches engineering topics to middle school students using small, inexpensive drone aircraft. The NSF-funded Engineering Experiences program developed more than a dozen lessons, including: Aerial Survey of a Disaster Area, UAV Performance Test: Carry a Payload, UAV Challenge: Retrieve a Payload, and the Drone Science Mission Board Game.

GLOBE Program logo

GLOBE Data at Altitude

Students compare temperature data from two locations in Germany to learn how temperature varies with altitude in Earth’s atmosphere. This lesson is part of the GLOBE Data Explorations series, which uses data collected by students in the GLOBE citizen science program to teach atmospheric science concepts and data analysis techniques. Printed copies of the lessons are available from Amazon.


Online Courses

UCAR/NCAR Climate Courses for Educators

While working at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), I co-developed and co-taught a series of online courses about climate science for teachers and other educators.

UCAR SciEd logo - Earth
  • Introduction to Earth’s Climate
  • Earth System Science: A Climate Change Perspective
  • Understanding Climate Change Today
  • Climate Discovery Online Course for the ASTC C3 Community

Michigan State University – Virtual University

I served as an instructional designer, online pedagogy consultant, and technical expert while helping several MSU faculty develop online versions of their courses. Most of the courses I worked on are in STEM disciplines.

Michigan State University logo
  • Chemical Engineering 201: Material and Energy Balances
  • Chemical Engineering 491/891 & Mechanical Engineering 491/940: Multiphase Transport Phenomena/Process Engineering Design
  • AP Chemistry
  • First Year Online (FYOL) initiative: Biology 110/111
  • Medical Technology (MT) 830: Concepts in Molecular Biology
  • MT 831: Clinical Applications of Molecular Biology
  • Math 1825: Intermediate Algebra
  • Geography 206: Introduction to Physical Geography
  • Resource Development (RD) 452: Watershed Concepts
  • RD 491: Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control
  • RD 491: Watershed Concepts and Management for Local Officials, Public Administrators and Practitioners
  • RD 891: Building & Implementing Watershed Management Plans
  • RD 891: Watershed Assessments and Tools
  • RD 876: International Rural Development
  • Center for Fundamental Materials Research (CFMR) Symposium 1997
  • Managing Export Operations (Center for International Business Education & Research)
  • Counseling, Ed Psych, and Special Ed 857B: Techniques of Orientation and Mobility I

Simulations and Virtual Labs

Very Simple Climate Model

The Very Simple Climate Model

Students try out various “what if?” scenarios with this simple climate model. Students control the amount of human emissions of greenhouse gasses during the coming century, then see what happens to global temperatures as a result.

Virtual Ballooning simulation screenshot

Virtual Ballooning to Explore the Atmosphere

Students learn about the layers of Earth’s atmosphere while conducting a series of virtual weather balloon launches. Students also practice techniques of scientific investigation, as they must judiciously choose how their balloons collect data over a limited number of flights.

Molecules Memory Game

Molecules Memory Game

Flip over cards to reveal depictions of molecules, two at a time. Can you remember where each molecule is long enough to choose a matching pair? This game features molecules that are prominent in atmospheric chemistry, such as oxygen, greenhouse gases, and air pollutants. Advanced levels require matching of non-identical depictions of molecules, such as matching the molecular formula with a ball-and-stick model.


Graphics and Animations

Eratosthenes Measurement Earth Circumference animation

Eratosthenes Measures the Earth

This animation illustrates the method and reasoning used around 240 BC by the greek mathematician and astronomer Eratosthenes to estimate the size of Earth. It was developed to accompany a citizen’s science project in which students measured Sun angles from Chile and North America to recreate Eratosthenes’ measurement.


More portfolio items coming soon…