Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Ask A Meteorologist

Today was the first of what I hope to be a successful videoconferencing collaboration with the National Weather Service. It all began several months ago when I e-mailed a meteorologist in Texas that offered videoconferences a few years ago. Many of our third grade classes were studying weather this year and I hoped I would be able to support them with videoconferencing. Then one day several weeks later Marcie Katcher from the Eastern Region National Weather Service, located in our own backyard (Long Island N.Y.) called to say that they had videoconferencing equipment and would be interested in trying to pilot a program with our third grade students. She even had a meteorologist who was interested in hosting the program. A livewire as I like to call anyone who volunteers to be involved in a videoconference. Especially a new venture. So, I became in touch with Rosemary Auld who is a real meteorologist. But it gets even better. She has a colleague named Jason Franklin, who is an aviation meteorologist, and he is interested in getting involved too. I was in videoconferencing planning heaven. One thing I really liked was that they suggested our students send to their offices a school weather mascot. I liked the idea that not only the students got to create something they also had an opportunity to have a personal connection with the National Weather Service. So, when the videoconference started today the first thing they saw was their "Weather Cheetah" right behind the head of the smiling meteorologist.

The videoconference started off with Rosemary Auld talking about the job of a meteorologist. She asked the students about their "Weather Cheetah" and what they were learning about weather. Then Jason Franklin got to tell the class about the job of an aviation meteorologist and how important their work is to keep planes flying safely. Then it was time for the students to ask questions. Another really nice touch here too. The students had e-mailed questions prior to the meteorologists. So, Marcie alternated between reading an e-mail question and having the student ask a live question. When she read an e-mail she asked the child who sent it to stand up. I know the students were very proud to have their questions read. One time she called out the name of about six students. She asked them to all stand up and hold hands. Then Marcie said their questions were all linked and that is why she wanted them to hold hands. They had all asked different questions about how weather moves.

The children also shared data they had been keeping everyday about temperatures. This is part of the globe project where the school has a weather station and they have instruments for recording weather information each day. This is really a 4th grade project but the 3rd graders are helping too. Rosemary Auld told them she would send them a box of materials so the could make their own weather instruments. Then they could compare how their school made instruments measured data compared to the special instruments they had in their school. The children were thrilled and very appreciative to be getting such an interesting package.

At the end the children were shown the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website with a special site for children.

I don't know what the weather will be tomorrow but today was sunny both inside and out.

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