PD1.3 Using Inexpensive, Arduino-Based Weather Sensors for Middle School STEM

Monday, 13 January 2020: 8:30 AM
258C (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
John M. Trostel, Georgia Tech Research Institute, Atlanta, GA; and J. L. Losego, T. Perry, M. H. Lupas, S. Mulvanity, and W. Lloyd

In addition to conducting research to help improve forecasting of severe weather in north Georgia, the Severe Storms Research Center (SSRC) at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) strives to conduct various outreach projects each year. One project this year was conducted with four sixth grade science classes at Otwell Middle School, located in Cumming, GA, about 40 miles northeast of Atlanta. This project was coordinated through STEM@GTRI, which works to engage students with real-world science and research by providing access to experts in STEM fields.

One goal of this project was to have students learn to identify a front on a map using current temperature and relative humidity observations. A second goal was to have the students learn to use the temperature and relative humidity data from an inexpensive weather station built by the SSRC to plot a graph and identify a frontal passage. Before the students started the project, scientists from the SSRC conducted a video interaction with the students to explain the project, how to locate a front on a map using current observations, and how to identify a front from the time series graph they made from the weather station data.

A day before the arrival of a front in north Georgia, students viewed current observations to identify the front off to their west, then predicted when they thought the front would arrive at their school. They then collected data by placing a simple digital temperature and humidity sensor out of their classroom window that was controlled by an Arduino microcontroller. Observations were saved to a MicroSD card so that the students could view and plot the data at a later time by hand or in Google Sheets. Students looked for changes in temperature and relative humidity to indicate the frontal passage.

This presentation will show how student interactions occurred, explain the components of the weather station, and discuss the results of the students’ project. The presentation will also discuss any issues that arose and how this project could be shared with other schools.

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