Educating the young about weather

February 16, 2013 

Creston Elementary School students gather after John Lindsey’s visit to the school to celebrate the launch of a new weather station there Tuesday.

JOHN LINDSEY

For a young student, weather can be fascinating and mysterious. Weather is all around us and constantly changing. In fact, it often influences our decisions for the day. Observing the rapid changes in weather, begs the question “why?” These questions can certainly lead to exploring the relationships between physics and chemistry, geology and oceanography. In other words, observing the sky is a wonderful way to encourage kids to explore not only the science of weather, but it also makes a great introduction to other scientific disciplines as well.

According to the Department of Labor, our students will need skills in math, science and engineering for nearly 80 percent of the jobs in the future. Therefore, encouraging students to study these subjects is crucial.

A few weeks ago, Caleb Davis, the husband of Creston Elementary School Principal Julie Davis, installed a new Davis Vantage Vue electronic weather station at the school. This station was provided through a grant from PG&E.

This compact weather station contains an anemometer to measure wind direction and speed, a barometer to track atmospheric pressure and a tipping rain bucket to record the amount and rate of rain. The station also includes temperature and humidity sensors to track winter’s chill and summer’s heat.

This weather station has turned the school into a reporting location that will help track storms and other weather phenomena used for weather forecasting.

You see, low-pressure systems and associated cold fronts from the Gulf of Alaska can reach the North County first before passing over San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, Arroyo Grande and Nipomo to the south. Data from this weather station can determine the strength and speed of the cold front, the amount of rainfall and the speed and direction of the winds as it later passes over communities to the south. Creston Elementary now plays an important role in local weather forecasting. Chris Arndt of http://SLOweather.com set up the website that will provide real-time and historical data from the station that can be viewed at http://www.weatherelement.com /crestonschool.

More importantly, this station will help students answer the “whys” of weather.

“We are hoping this provokes excitement in science,” Julie Davis said.

Last week, I had the honor to visit the school and demonstrate a few weather experiments — “cloud in the bottle,” “fire cylinder,” “crushed can” and the “flame under a water balloon” — to some extraordinarily bright third-throughsixth-grade students. After my visit, I couldn’t help but think how important our educational system is to our country’s future. These students will be our future.

Scholarships offered

PG&E is looking for students who have given back to their local community or overcome personal hardships to apply for the PG&E Bright Minds Scholarship Program.

Applicants must be at least 16 years old, a high school senior or graduate, have received GED certification or be a post-secondary undergraduate student, live in the PG&E service area and plan to enroll in a full-time undergraduate study program at an accredited two-year or four-year college, university or vocational/technical school for the complete 2013-14 academic year.

PG&E will award up to $1 million in PG&E Bright Minds scholarships. Scholarship winners will receive up to $30,000 per year. Program finalists will receive $2,500. Applications are due Feb. 28 and can be found at http://www.pge.com/brightminds.

John Lindsey’s column is special to The Tribune. He is a media relations representative for PG&E and a longtime local meteorologist. If you have a question, send him an email at pgeweather@pge.com  .

WEATHER FORECAST

John Lindsey’s weather forecast for the week will appear Monday.

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