This year GEMS middle school students are getting more outdoor recess. Each grade level is scheduled for a full 30 minutes of fresh air, movement, and social interaction. It is great to get outside, but it is winter, and this is Vermont. It gets cold and windy out there. Some days the weather just doesn’t cooperate and students need to have their recess indoors. To make this determination GEMS follows guidelines provided by the Vermont Principals Association for outdoor activities. When the “feels like” temperature or wind chill falls below zero degrees fahrenheit, it is no longer considered safe for outdoor activities.
Until recently a windchill temperature reading was only available as reported online or on other media based on temperature readings from other locations. Our school and playgrounds sit on a windy hillside and conditions may change drastically hour by hour. For this reason it seemed like collecting our own weather data was long overdue.
Middle School Principal Julie Conrad initiated the discussion about involving students and the GEMS Innovation Lab in the project and soon a plan began to unfold. The school purchased an Acurite weather station and recruited 8th grade student Logan Grimm to collaborate with the Information Technology ( IT) and Maintenance Departments to get it up and running.
Logan worked with John Picanza from the IT department to unbox, assemble the unit and connect it to the internet. The station was then tested on a temporary basis for a full week. Finally, having proven reliability, GEMS Maintenance Staff Pete Metcalf installed a pole for permanently mounting the weather station by the Middle School playground. After the pole was installed Mr. Clow, technology integrationist, then performed the installation. Throughout the process students and teachers collected video and pictures. Logan then used the media to create a GEMS TV feature video to showcase the entire project.
In a very short time it has become routine for members of the school community to check the weather station data posted on the GEMS website!
Logan’s Reflection on the weather station project:
The reason I wanted to work on this project is because I thought it would be a fun project and it was.
I also wanted to work on this project because I like to take apart electronics at home and fix them and clean them up.
I would say the most challenging part of the weather station project was connecting it to the internet. The reason is it seemed like every time it was trying to connect it failed the test. The way we solved the internet problem is we kept trying. At one point we glitched the app and got an error code. When we exited the error screen it automatically connected to the internet.
I think it would be very helpful for families to have GEMS weather open at home so kids know, before they come to school, what the weather is at the school and wear the right gear. It is good to know the real temperature at school because below zero is too cold for recess. It could be warmer or colder at another weather station.
I wanted to make a video of the process because I thought it would be a fun little video to put on GEMS TV to share with others. I have worked on GEMS TV for 2 years and enjoy my innovation lab classes.