174 STEM Education in a High School Meteorology Program

Monday, 11 January 2016
Jeffrey A. Yuhas, Morristown-Beard School, Morristown, NJ; and T. Margosian, H. Kern, V. Sharma, and B. Rechler

Students at the Morristown-Beard School (MBS) in Morristown, NJ have embarked on several student-centered, meteorology-based projects. Collectively these efforts use the world of meteorology to expose the students to new ideas, tools, and experiences while creating resources that are shared with the school community at large. In a way of formalizing these programs, the Morristown-Beard School Pre-College Chapter of the American Meteorological Society was founded in 2015.

During the Spring of 2015, Thomas Margosian, Harrison Kern, and Vinayak Sharma embarked on several technology related endeavors. All of them involved not only learning about new tools, but introduced the students to experts in the field, building working/learning relationships as Education-Industry Partnerships with the different companies.

The student efforts included:

Working with experts at EarthNetworks to program a Raspberry Pi as part of the Internet of Things. They programmed the device to monitor multiple atmospheric variables and store and transmit the data.

Exploring potential classroom applications for a Li-Cor CO2 monitor.

Programming the WeatherBug HD Camera, which included setting it up to take time-stamp pictures of an MBS building project.

Implementing and maintaining a Lightning Monitoring Network through EarthNetworks, as part of the MBS Safety Program.

These efforts benefit both students and industry professionals.

The students are provided a hands-on experience that taps their interests in computers and technology. They are able to explore areas that are not typically available to them in high school classrooms. By bringing the education experience to them and tapping personal interests, an enriching learning model is created.

This opens up a new world to the professionals involved. What better way to tap the market of STEM education than to have motivated students put their technological know-how through the paces? By working directly with the students, the companies see first hand how their products can reach a K-12 audience while having built-in beta-testers to help develop curriculum that can be shared with other schools.

This program also supports the National Weather Service's (NWS) Weather Ready Nation initiative. How better to create a citizen scientist than to start the education process and plant the seed of interest in high school. Meteorology, and specifically forecasting, typically is not part of the high school curriculum, and it is a very complex subject. Teaching these topics requires highly specialized equipment and skilled mentors. While there may be high school teachers who have the passion and knowledge of the subject, they rarely have the time to dedicate to such a specialized topic. To overcome this, the MBS students are paired directly with experts in the field. High school students that find these experiences as motivation to pursue a meteorology degree will have an excellent head start. This program creates a unique and wonderful learning opportunity for all students involved to learn more advanced topics in weather and science and gain confidence in those topics.

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