Weather stations and STEM education- a moment of science


What’s the weather outside?

An easy enough question with a simple solution- checking on your phone. Those current conditions come from the closest weather station, which are the foundation of our forecasts. 

As explained in a previous moment of science, weather forecasts begin with the current weather data across thousands of weather stations around the world. Weather models then take this data and create a forecast which we’ll interpret and present to you on air. The more weather stations there are, the better our forecast will be. More data points means less areas that a weather model doesn’t have to guess what the current weather is. Too many gaps could lead to a busted forecast down the line so by adding new weather stations, like this one at Sand Hill Elementary in Summerville, we can better predict the weather. 

Founded by a grant from DD2 Educational Foundation, this weather station does a lot as Megan Hatcher, a 4th grade teacher who brought this weather station to the school explains,

“We teach a weather unit every year in 4th grade and I really wanted something other than just teaching the standards. I wanted something for my students to have, a real world experience with real world data that’s coming right here from the roof of our school.”

Better yet, the weather station creates curiosity and engagement in other lessons as well, “we use the weather data in science class. It’s integrated into our math problems… the students can write weather reports in ELA class, so it’s really a cross-curricular activity.”

What’s in a weather station?

All of the real time weather data that the students use are measured by a collection of instruments on the station. Let’s take a quick trip through some of the sensors.

A thermometer which measures, you guessed it, temperature. The humidity is measured by a device called a hygrometer while atmospheric pressure is measured by a barometer. These instruments are usually shielded away from view, but the next instrument is not. An anemometer measures the strength and direction of wind. Rounding out the main instruments is a rain gauge that measures every 0.01” of precipitation as the bucket that collected the rain tips over. Wind chill, dewpoint, and other variables are calculated as well- which all provide valuable data for weather models to use and the next generation of STEM students.

“You can teach from a textbook all day long but for them to actually know that we’re studying is real world information that is coming right from our school they’re really engaged, they’re really excited to learn about it- they’re asking questions that years ago they’d never ask.” 

Megan Hatcher, 4th Grade Teacher at Sand Hill Elementary in Summerville

Questions like “what’s the weather outside” can blossom into years long interest in science as long as educators like Mrs. Hatcher incorporate STEM and the physical embodiment of science, like a weather station, in young student’s education.

Storm Team 2 Meteorologist David Dickson

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