Wired for Weather; Kilo Junior High students study the elements with new weather computer

"When rolling gray clouds appear and cold, wet droplets of rain pelt the ground, eighth-grade students at Kilo Junior High School couldn't be happier.Thanks to a new weather tracking system, eighth-grade science students of Michelle Cole have a new, high tech way to learn about the rain, wind, clouds and sun they see in their own backyard. Through a lighted display and an attached computer monitor, the students can track wind speed, barometric pressure, rainfall and temperature. It's all part of a weather package Cole purchased though TV's Channel 5, KING TV School Net program. All the weather gear necessary to gauge the vital weather information is affixed to the school's roof. The wind speed, barometric pressure, rainfall and temperature are recorded into a computer in Cole's classroom ready for her and her students to see at anytime. The information from Kilo Junior High can also be viewed on the KING 5 website. Weather personalities Jeff Renner and Rich Marriot might also use the school's information on any given weather broadcast.They pay closer attention to the weather now it seems, Cole said of the computerized weather equipment that sits up on a long counter in her classroom. I think it's really grabbed their attention.And that's good news for Cole who will use the software and equipment in her science curriculum later this semester to teach weather, oceanography, water and the water cycle and environmental science. Weather, she said, will play a constant theme in her teaching throughout the semester because of the special equipment.I think this is a good way to get them more involved and more excited about science, she said. At this age, science for kids is not the most exciting thing.While childrens' attention spans seem to get shorter and shorter in the video game era, Cole said the computerized weather station is turning many of her pupils into budding meteorologists. Already a handful of dedicated weather-tracking students arrive at Cole's classroom each morning to find out the latest weather data.Jeff Troxel, 14, said he's enjoys deciphering the information. Through Cole's science class Troxel said he has learned more than he ever thought he would, but the weather data also drives him to ask many questions.I want to know more about how they forecast weather, he said. Is it the same every year and what is the future of weather for the world?While the future of weather may be another unit to explore, Cole said she is looking forward to weaving weather and the weather data through her classes this semester. One project, for example will have students in her different classes, graph temperatures, wind speed, barometric pressure and rainfall for a one week period. At the conclusion, students in each class will get to see the differences and changes in weather from period to period.Cole may also work with students to graph temperatures and weather data in a city of their choice to learn about that city's weather and climate conditions.I think this gives them a much broader picture so they can look at a barometer and see it falling and know the weather is changing, Cole said. They'll see a warm and a cold front come together and know what's going to happen. This adds a lot to my curriculum.Weather fan Alex Wyer, 14, said he thinks the Pacific Northwest is an appropriate place to study weather here since it rains a lot.I like the storms because with some storms no one knows a whole lot about them, he said. There's a lot of mystery. Weather is power.To Cole, weather and knowledge together are power. As her weather center matures, and some of the occasional software glitches get worked out, Cole says she hopes to ultimately have the school's weather data broadcast during the morning announcements and have the school's library linked to the weather center.I want to put it out there so all the kids can see it, she said. "

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