Saturday, June 09, 2007
It seems if you want to love what you do become a scientist. At least that is what I have learned from all the scientists that our classrooms have videoconferenced with over the past years. The meteorologists at the National Weather Service an arm of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) are no exception as they shared with our students yesterday their love for the work they do. Meteorologist Richard Watling began his talk with the students advising them to find something they love to do. He recounted the days of his youth in the Finger Lakes Region of New York watching the sky and the weather. He talked about the educational steps he had to take to become a meteorologist. Then he shared his favorite weather pictures of hurricanes and tornadoes and the power of these weather systems. He also spoke of global warming and the attention that needs to be given to this issue. Meteorologist Laurie Hogan also looked up to the sky as a child. Her sky was the great open spaces of North Dakota. Our students live in an urban environment and don't have the opportunity to see weather in this dramatic way but they definitely see its effect on the news they watch and some of the weather events they have personally experienced. She also talked about the kinds of equipment that meteorologists work with from computers to satellites and of course the trusty weather balloon. The students were also introduced to the NOAA Education Resourcesat the NOAA website that are available for students and teachers by educational specialist Cheryl Latif.
Of course the students had the opportunity to ask questions. How do you get the 5-day forecast? Why do hurricanes have names? How much money does a meteorologist make? Are just a sampling of some of the questions asked. From the attention and interest the students paid to these meteorologists I could tell they are even at the ages of 11 and 12 seriously considering their future careers. This wonderful opportunity to hear and question these leading scientists are really made possible through the technology of videoconferencing since the physical distance of their location as well as their busy schedules make a classroom visit difficult at best. You can see a wonderful video called Tornado’s Hero: A Meteorologist Roll over the video section and pick interview with meteorologist.
Finally a few comments on some technical and scheduling glitches. These always point to the importance of planning, planning and more planning. On our end we lost a class and our audio for the second program. The teacher was unaware that her class was scheduled for the program and until the class was located more than half the time was lost. The loss of audio lead to our writing notes on a dry erase board for communication. This is a reminder of the importance of a phone at each site for communication.