Project Atmosphere Continues

One really important note I forgot to add to my last post was on the 3rd day Wednesday we meet the director of the National Weather Service Dr. Louis W. Uccellini. Definitely an opportunity I really enjoyed. He gave a great talk on the future of the Weather Service. He emphasized how important it was to get the weather information out to the community and how water forecasts were becoming an important part of the weather service job. After his talk we got to take our picture with him. I did get a picture with him. Highlight of my day.

By the 4th day we had done a number of module lessons and were heading into some heavy-duty weather concepts. Chad Kauffman was leading the way on this day. He went over how to read a 500 mb pressure map and he gave out some awesome resources. One of them was the National Weather Service Enhanced Display, a great tool to see weather plotted on a map in real-time. His other resource included MetED COMET program. Here you can find some really great online courses that can help you understand weather. Chad went over the CAPE (Convective Available Potential Energy) that can be seen on a stuve graph. We also went over radiosondes data. After Chad finished his talk we had another briefing with Jerry Griffin about the current weather. We did another module that went over radiosondes data and stuve graphs.  Bob then talked about our upcoming trip to the Topeka Weather Center. There we watched them launch a weather balloon to get some radiosondes data. When we arrived various people helped us understand the warning system and how it worked. This center pushed forecast warnings out for the Topeka, Kansas area. It was quite interesting to see how the warnings were created. We then were introduced to the people working in the office. Our visit ended with the balloon launch.

signweb    topekaweb

balloonweb      balloonweb2

Day 5 of the workshop we reviewed the radiosondes data that we obtained from the weather balloon launch. After going over that Chad introduced us to Severe Weather. The best site for information about Severe Weather is the Storm Prediction Center through NOAA. From there you can access the Violent Tornado Webpage, this I think would be a great page to have students use for a project on tornadoes. I’m beginning to have some ideas for this project at the end of the weather unit.

After lunch we had our weather briefing and then had another guest speaker.  Andy Bailey- Warning Coordination Meteorologist spoke on the Doppler Radar. His presentation was great. His topics included – Basic Radar Imagery, Interpretation Basics, Radar Limitations, Radar Display Systems, Storm “Signatures” and New Technologies. One of the most interesting things I thought was that radar’s lowest scan is ½ degree above horizon, reason is they don’t want the microwaves scanning through people etc. Never knew that. You can really read about radar at the NOAA site and accuweather. After explaining radar Mr. Bailey then showed us different storm systems and explained their radar map. It was a great discussion on radar, I learned more radar in this one session then ever before. He also recommended some apps to try radarscope , there are other apps out there too. One thing he did talk about was jobs. His recommendation to anyone who wants a job in the Weather Service, is to go through the military. They give preference to veterans who are qualified. Pretty cool!

The last thing to happen that day was we listened to presentations from two of the participants. One was on the weather at Mogollon Rim in Arizona and the other was on the education system in Canada. Both really interesting. Amazing the knowledge and experience different teachers will bring to workshop.

The weekend was ours, meaning we were off. So a lot of exploring is going to take place. We still have a ton of things to do the next week.



Project Atmosphere Begins A Summer PD

So my summer began on quiet note this year. I didn’t have any PD’s (Professional Development) at the beginning. Something of an oddity for me. But then I applied to the Project Atmosphere experience.  Supported by NOAA and NSF, the American Meteorological Society hosted a 12 day workshop that was all about weather. Something I teach in class and felt I needed a better background in. I took the DataExtreme Weather course through AMS. The course was very informative and gave me a good background in meteorology. So I took a chance and applied to the summer experience. Well that’s where I am now. I did get accepted.

The next few entries will be about the experience and some of the resources I’m obtaining from the course. One thing to remember about this experience it is for 12 days and that means almost two weeks away from home. It also is at the end of July, for me that is near the end of my summer vacation something I had to get use to and plan around. But well worth it!

The experience started on July 17th, Sunday. We all had to arrive in Kansas City Missouri before 4pm. The hotel was pretty decent and the first night was a get to know you night. There are 24 participants in the workshop. Everyone comes from various grade levels and across the country. The next day really started the experience. We would be meeting every day at the Kansas City National Weather Service Training Center. The day would start at 8 am and end at 4:30 pm. Our first day was filled with guest speakers and welcomes.  Our four leaders during the workshop were Jim Brey, Bob Weinbeck, Chad Kauffman and Abby Stimach all a part of AMS. We were welcomed by John Ogren who is the director of the center. Then Mr. Brey would introduced us to the AMS education and what the future would look like with the program. Part of our day throughout the workshop would be our daily briefing on weather by Jerry Griffin. Using various maps from the NWS, Mr. Griffin discussed how to read a water vapor map, surface weather stations and convective maps. Most of these can be found at the National Weather Service Website.


During the day they introduced us to Modules that the AMS developed for teachers. Some of these lessons and resources they presented you can get from the AMS website. The first module was about Highs/Lows. The lab used the hand model to help students understand the flow of air in pressure systems.  There are videos on YouTube that show you how to use the model. Once we finished our module we took a tour of ASOS (Automated Surface Observing Site). This ended our first day. Already racking up a ton of information and resources for the future.

“Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) units are automated sensor suites that are designed to serve meteorological and aviation observing needs. There are currently more than 900 ASOS sites in the United States. These systems generally report at hourly intervals, but also report special observations if weather conditions change rapidly and cross aviation operation thresholds.” (, NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information)


ASOS equipment


ASOS training site


ASOS Map of all sites


Satellite Imagery

The second day included a talk by Chad Kauffman, a professor at California University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Kauffman presented a ton of information on Skywarn and Pennsylvania State University e-Wall The Electronic Map Wall. Two great resources for teachers to use, but a warning, the second resource can be difficult to understand. It does have a great map resources. He did a great job explaining basic weather concepts. If you want to follow him on twitter here is his handle @TripleVortex. After his talk Adam Stout came in talked about Satellite imagery and took us on a tour through the Satellite office. The one exciting point he made in his presentation was about GOES-R Satellite. A game changer for climate and weather.

The third day included a full day of guest speakers on various topics. The day started with research on Climate, Weather, and Laura Ingalls Wilder: Connecting Science to Narrative by Barb Mayes Boustead, Ph.D. A very different view of Laura Ingalls novels and the weather she wrote about in her novels, Dr. Boustead focused on the “The Long Winter” Wilder Book- 1880-1881, you can follow on twitter by the way @windbarb. Dr. Boustead talked about various parts of Ingalls novels that mentioned different weather events and using various research to collaborate the events.  Her discussion included the El Nino, La Nino and their effects on various parts of the United States. During the discussion she mentioned an event that took place 1888, called the Children’s Blizzard. A tragic event that caused many deaths among immigrant children during an unexpected blizzard. I would never had thought of associating Laura Ingalls novels with weather, but it works and Dr. Boustead did a great job explaining this whole topic.

After Dr. Boustead, we had our weather briefing by Jerry Griffin again. Of course nothing changed because of the High that was sitting over the center of the country. The day ended with a lesson on the electromagnetic spectrum. By the end of the day I had more information then I knew what to do with. And as for the other participants, there are a great bunch of educators here and they have some really good ideas. So far the workshop has not disappointed me.


Summer Thoughts

So I’m probably near the end of my summer. We ended our school year the weekend of memorial day and go back early August. So… I’m almost at the end. Ask me what I did this summer and I’m not sure. It went by so quick. I did try to take  time for myself and do things I enjoy. I actually caught up on some reading that had been put on hold. But I’m still at a loss what I did.

I do have an idea for the upcoming school year that I already posted about and I’m trying to iron out in my mind. I’ve been reading a good deal about allowing students to stand to in class. I know, there are are a lot of variables you need to take into account. But as I continue to think about this,  I think I’m going to create some standing stations at our counters. This might help those students who can’t sit still and can use a little help focusing and it could create a better atmosphere for them. Now I know this could create some problems, but its worth a try. See my earlier post about the article I read.  I’m leaning towards trying this year.

Another new “tool” (I’ll call it that for now) available to me this year is a new 3D printer from Dremel.  We recently purchased the new Dremel 3D40edu.  I was given permission to order two printers one for the IT department and the other for Science. Well lets just say both have been in constant use.


It was also used in our Academic camp this year for 3D modeling. Both work like a charm and came with some lesson plans. I’m definitely looking into doing something this year with students. But I have to figure out what. I want them to create the model, not just download something from the internet.  Something I will have to really think about.

The last item I have been thinking about is having students read a book for the first semester project. I would split the year, 1st semester book project and 2nd semester “Genius Hour”. This is something I definitely would like to implement this year. I thought I would assign the book to make sure students are working on the same page. Not sure yet, pros and cons to this. What I also might do is assign a couple of choices and let them choose. It would be a good way to get them to read. The other option was to assign a weekly reading assignment and have them discuss in class on Fridays. This could be a kind of current events assignment.  II really have a lot of choices here. One of the books I was thinking of assigning was Rocket Boys by Homer H. Hickman Jr. My reasoning is our history teacher shows October Sky in class and this might be something we could collaborate on.

Yep a couple of items I really do have to think about. But they are already coming together. Meanwhile I started my professional development this summer and will post about in the next entry.

Cybraryman Internet Catalogue

Source: Cybraryman Internet Catalogue

Great resource for summer reading. Already a month into vacation and I still haven’t caught up with my reading.  You can also look at AJ Juliani’s Blog for some interesting suggestions.  Enjoy!

Using Stand Up Tables in the Classroom | Edutopia

WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Source: Using Stand Up Tables in the Classroom | Edutopia

After reading this article I’m thinking of allowing students to stand in class. It really does a good job pointing out some of the benefits of this option.  Of course I would have to think about rules students would follow to be able to do this. I did like the suggestion in the article about the new gained rights and responsibilities of the students:

Students were …allowed to stand as long as we made reasonable decisions on where we stood and made sure we were not obstructing anyone’s view or being distracted by people we were standing beside.

A good start to some of the rules I would implement in class. I like this idea because I know I have had students who would prefer standing. They usually get very restless in their seats. I think giving students this option in class might help improve focus for some of them.  Again I would make this a choice, this is not for all students. The only problem I see which was mentioned in the article is the  work area. As I think about implementing this idea I need to think about the classroom and how to do it. I’m picturing counter space designated for this purpose. This is not a new idea, but I think it is becoming popular among teachers. I know the  concerns teachers voice deal mostly with class management. However I think this can be addressed by teachers who are flexible. I don’t think this is for everyone, but if you are flexible and willing to try something new, I think this is great. Our librarians like to stand and have desks that suit this option. So why not let students? Adults like to do it.

If you ever have thought about this, check  this article out it might help with your decision.

Scaling Flipped Learning: Part 2 – Flipped Learning Simplified

Individual teachers across the world who are flipping their classes, are often working in isolation and small pockets. However, as the movement has grown, there is an increasing need to think syste…

Source: Scaling Flipped Learning: Part 2 – Flipped Learning Simplified

I’m enjoying this series. Even though the series addresses school wide implementation I like the little bits of helpful hints on Best practices.

Behind the Scenes of a Makerspace — Campus Technology

The Rutgers University Makerspace has become a hub of creativity on campus. Here’s how it manages operations, equipment, projects and more.

Source: Behind the Scenes of a Makerspace — Campus Technology

Great article on how the Makerspace at Rutgers got started. The most important point throughout the article, I think, is making the room accessible to all.  I think this is a very important for a Makerspace. Everyone should be able to create or build something they have envisioned.

Final Poster for Mars Imaging Project

Here is our final poster for the Mars Imaging Project. Great Job by students. Hopefully this could lead to future research. I know I’m going to try and do this again but in class.

Spring_2016_Cardinal Gibbons Mars

Take the Time

Great end of the year thoughts. We all have a tendency to forget that some of our students really do like school and it’s their one safe haven. So take the time to say thank you to your students for a great year. For the good and bad. Great post Ms. Ripp thanks for the reminder.

For in the end it is not what we got done that matters, it is how we felt doing it. pernille ripp

There seems to be no greater rush in school then these last few precious days before we say goodbye, before our time is up.  I look at my own to-do list and wonder just how much will actually get to done.  The pressure of it all nips at my heels as I wonder whether my students could possibly speak a little bit faster as they deliver their end of year speeches.  Will we get through them all?  We have so much to do still.

Yet, as I listened today to a boy share his message of hope and forgiveness.  To another who shared the value of friendship.  To one who decided to challenge our racial beliefs, and one that made me cry (actually two did) because they stood up there and spoke their truth, I knew what I had forgotten.  To take the time.

To take the time to say…

View original post 287 more words

An end to a great project

Well as the school year ends so did our Mars Imaging Research Project. As you can see by the last student entry on our blog, we had a couple of surprises that we found during our research. Students were excited when we discovered a couple changes in their research sites. We might not have discovered RSL’s but we found some interesting changes on the surface of Mars.  During the presentation Dr. Meyer’s pointed out some interesting features in the students research areas. Overall I think the students did pretty good and the presentation went well.  Hopefully our work will be posted on the MSIP site.

Their last assignment for the project included a reflection on their research and what they learned from the research.  A summary of the assignment appears below:

Write a 2 page reflection on this project. Include the following:
1- Explain the section of the research you worked on and explain what results you found.
2- Describe what you learned from the project.
3- Would you do this project again? If so why? And did you like it?

Not very intense but I believe it was to the point and valuable to my assessment on what they learned from the project.

Students were very good in their responses. Meaning they were very descriptive and  informative about their thoughts. I was impressed by how many really enjoyed the project and would do it again.

Hereare some examples of their reflections in their own words:

I learned a lot about teamwork from this project. Every member in the group did their part, sometimes with the guidance of other group members. The continuous group meetings we had gave me something to look forward to after school because the topic interested me. Once I finally understand how to work the websites we were working with, understood the information, and got going with my research, it became a very enjoyable task for me.

The Mars imaging research project has affected and changed me in so many ways. I’m a lot more open minded and ready to try anything new. I learned so many things that I never knew even existed. I’ve never had an interest in science at all, but this project sparked a new love and appreciation in science for me. The things I loved the most about the Mars Imaging Research was the enthusiasm and support from fellow imagers, the amazing experiences, and finding my new interest in science.


I am really happy with the research and work the students put into the project. Of course our lead student Alex is the one to set us on this path. His enthusiasm and love for the topic was a motivator. We were all grateful to him for his guidance and help in this project.

Alex was a great team leader he always kept us on task and his knowledge of Mars definitely helped us with what we were looking at.

Not to mention, Alex was very informative. The information he provided us with to get started, and how he guided us through the whole project was exceptional. I don’t think our group could have done it without him…


If I was to change anything I would use this in class and put aside some time each week to complete the research. If you plan ahead you can probably complete the project in less than a month.  At the website the MSIP advisors give you a schedule you can follow depending on the type of research you are completing with your students.  Mars Imaging Project is perfect example of STEM in the classroom. But more importantly I think it shows students how research is not a perfect world, everything can change in an instant especially when dealing with a dynamic planet like Mars.  As one student said “the unexpected is what science is all about”.


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