The Easy Introduction To Math, Physics, Geography....
Kids And Weather Stations
We know that weather affects many parts of our lives, from choosing what clothes to wear right through to planning to reduce the effects of major weather events such as hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires.
But in their own way, kids are just as interested in weather. It might just be uncertainty about the source of the noise and flashing light in a thunderstorm, it might be the fun of the season's first snowfall, or it could be TV News coverage of a natural disaster like a flood, tornado or hurricane.
Children also see the weatherpeople on TV, with their maps coveredwith strange symbols and wriggly lines.
It's natural that at times they want to know what's going on - is a tornado coming to get them, or will their home be flooded.
Looking back on my distant childhood, among my clear memories arestopping on the way back from a day at the beach to watch two waterspouts, and the days of rain followed by news reports of amajor flood.
All this suggests that weather would be a good thing to includein a junior school curriculum, as some degree of interest is already there.
And what better way to introduce the subject of weather thanthrough a weather station installed at the school.
Now I know school budgets are always tight and good reliable weather stations are not cheap. But there are companies anduniversities that can help out there - more on that later.
The implications are huge. Apart from potentially leading to an interest in the outdoors, study and observation of theweather provides an easy pathway to many other studies.
Such as mathematics - how about averages of rainfall andtemperature, or conversions from Fahrenheit to Centigrade.
Or physics - how does a barometer measure air pressure, or athermometer measure temperature?
These are some of the things included in the program at the
Dr Marcella R Kelly School in Holyoke Massachusetts, where
students not only have a wireless weather station on the
roof of the school, but who have made or will make their
own thermometers, rain gauges, barometers and weathervanes.
(Jeanette DeForge, Springfield Republican, 04/23/06)
Not only that, but they have their own website and are in
contact with other schools, both nearby and as far away as
Ohio, Arizona and Puerto Rico. Imagine being able to get
information on tornadoes in Ohio or hurricanes in Puerto
Rico from school kids your own age!
And that brings me to some of the other paths an
understanding of weather might lead to. Climatololgy and
climate change are obvious ones, but geography and
even botany, zoology and ecology can all be linked with
And so can the physical earth sciences - weather may be
strongly related to the start of a flood, but there is
much more really interesting stuff that can be taught
by following a flood from start to finish.
The Kelly School is part of a small, internet connected
network of schools with weather stations. An even bigger
network of schools can be found in Vancouver, Canada.
The May 2006 Issue of The Ring, a University of Victoria
Community Newspaper, describes a network of 50 weather
stations at public schools in the area.
This project was developed by Dr Andrew Weaver of the
University of Victoria, with support from NEC and
Davis Instruments, as well as from various educational boards.
In this case each school has its own Davis Vantage Pro2
Home Weather Station, which transmits weather to a
receiver in the school, as well as a central receiver at
This allows real time maps to be made of the city, which
among other things show the variation of microclimate over
a large area, stretching from the coast to well inland.
You can view some of this information at www.victoriaweather.ca.
As in the case of the Kelly School, the network of weather stations
allows both the teaching of basic meteorology and climatology, but,
together with a resources guide, allows the integration of the
weather stations into the science curriculum.
This is a great example of the integration of active research
with imaginative teaching opportunities at early school levels.
50 weather stations collecting information from a small urban
area provides numerous opportunities for research, with plenty of
benefits to the kids at school.
Schools and Commercial Interests
Strong ties are developing between schools and weather services,
with win/win situations looking very possible, provided good
sense and good will is maintained by both sides.
Weatherbug has recognized this, and exchanges its donations of
weather stations and weather software to schools for increased
coverage of local weather. Schools also benefit from early
warnings of dangerous weather, while WeatherBug uses its
increasing coverage to promote sales of related weather services
to industry and news organizations. More on this in the future.
So overall the installation of weather stations in schools can
only produce benefits to school children (provided of course that
the information and relevance to the curriculum reaches the
students). It's a mutually beneficial situation for both the
schools and the organizations which sponsor weather stations,
whether it's a short term commercial advantage, and aid to
University research, or the potential of future sales resulting
from an interest in weather persisting to the years after school.
For more on home weather stations, many of which would be
suitable for use in schools, start at the main
Home Weather Stations page and follow the links from
This link will take you back to the Top, or, when you're ready, here's how to return to the Home page.
But just before you move on...
You may be interested to know that you can find out more about weather and home weather stations by receiving our newsletter ,"Watching Weather". It's published more or less weekly, and apart from tips on how to use your weather station and understand what it's telling you about the weather around you, it also covers many other weather related topics.
If this sounds interesting, just add your name and email address to the form below. When you join, you'll also receive, totally free, a 20 page guide to setting up and trouble shooting problems in home weather stations.
And I promise that you won't get spammed, and that your sign up details will remain totally confidential.
Sign up now and receive your first issue almost immediately.
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