Education column: Weather station expands horizons

Things were hopping last Friday out at Ranchvale Elementary; aside from the wind and rain, that is. Steve Kersh, chief meteorologist from the KVII channel 7 news team arrived in Clovis to set up a SchoolNet Weather Station at Ranchvale that will be tied into the Channel 7 (Amarillo) TV weather network.

Tied to a computer set up with the help of Clovis Schools’ Technology Department Network Administrator, Eric Wimbish, the system is remarkable, and, when fully up and running, will be able to “access any of Channel 7’s 152 sites, in sites as widespread as California, New York, Alaska, the Netherlands, and Australia!”

How did this come about? Brian Uerling, veteran teacher, learned about the weather station and thought, “Gee … the Air Force is interested in and dependent on the weather; so are our farmers and ranchers. Most of Ranchvale’s students come from families involved with these specific fields.”

Uerling began the team effort by emailing Kersh and collecting all the details. First-grade Ranchvale teacher Michele Roberts scheduled a weather assembly with Kersh for the school, which the students loved. With help from Doris Ford, fourth-grade teacher at Ranchvale, they were able to raise about $1,500 from businesses, farmers and ranchers, all of whom insist on remaining anonymous.

The site will show every night on the televised forecast as “RVL,” and the students at Ranchvale will be able to do all sorts of scientific exploration and projects dealing with weather patterns and trends. Students will be able to learn about how the ocean’s temperature affects land weather, via the Alaska site, and see, simultaneously, what the weather is doing almost around the globe, covering geography as well. Many of the weather readings involve mathematic equations as well. The system is devised where any classroom teacher can access the weather systems from their classroom computers, and won’t be limited to having to go to the library to access it. In addition, all manner of reading skills will be involved across the board.

In celebration of acquiring the system, Ranchvale held a sandwich luncheon to talk about the system and all the learning that could come from having such an installation available at their school site.

Thank goodness educators are well-rounded individuals eager to learn about all sorts of things and have that unique perspective of how a variety of resources can be used to enhance student learning and engage students better.

I am once again reminded of a quote by Lee Iacocca, former captain of industry in the U.S.: “In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers, and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honor and the highest responsibility anyone could have.”

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the Instructional Technology coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at cindy.kleyn-kennedy@clovis-schools.org