A weather activity day for local schools in the Dept of Meteorology, University of Reading, UK

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Monday, 18 January 2010: 11:45 AM
B214 (GWCC)
Ross Reynolds, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom

The UK's National Science and Engineering Week occurs in March each year. A few colleagues in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading won funding from a UK government research council to support a one-day visit by 60 15 year old local school students interested in science.

Students were divided into three groups that completed each of the activities:

1. Richardson's forecast factory

This involved tables laid out in a 4x4 array in a

large classroom in which each school student was

supported by someone from the Department - sitting side

by side. The idea was to undertake simple calculations to

follow the progress of a change in temperature across the

array - compared to the same calculation undertaken on a

digital computer.

The exercises undertaken worked very well.

2. Density current

The Fluids Lab was used to illustrate the progress of

a coloured saline solution that undercut fresh water

in a long rectangular tank. Students were involved with

measuring e.g. speed of the leading edge of the current

and how it depended on the density difference.

3. Radiosonde & surface observations

Two radiosondes were launched from the Dept's Atmospheric

Observatory and students were involved in taking/logging

a short series of surface observations including dry and

wetbulb temperature, wind direction and speed and cloud

type and amount. The ascent data were provided for

plotting etc at school, along with a selection of daily

surface data from the Observatory - with suggestions as

to how to process them.

The aims of the day were to illustrate the way in which science and Mathematics are used day-to-day in weather forecasting, to expose young students to a University environment and to promote the Department for local students.

The session ended with a forecast presented by a colleague from the Met Office unit housed in the Department.

Student and teacher feedback was very positive about all aspects of the day.