MSU Department of Geosciences and Partnership Middle School install interactive weather station and help students become ‘citizen scientists’

Sarah Lalk and Barrett Gutter, assistant clinical professors in MSU’s Department of Geosciences, show students at Partnership Middle School how the new weather station installed at the school is used to collect data such as temperature, barometric pressure, precipitation, wind speed and humidity. (Photo by Grace Cockrell)

Contact person: Sarah Nicolas

STARKVILLE, Mississippi—Mississippi State’s Department of Geosciences, in conjunction with the Partnership Middle School—Starkville Oktibbeha County School District’s sixth and seventh grades—this week officially opened an interactive weather station to help students better understand how air masses and frontal borders affect daily weather.

Modeled after an interactive weather station at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute in Tremont, the newly installed rain gauges will allow classes to contribute as “citizen scientists” to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, CoCoRaHS for short, database research – a community-based non-profit network of volunteers working together to measure and map precipitation. Founded in 1998 at Colorado State University, CoCoRaHA has partnerships in all 50 US states.

Barrett F. Gutter and Sarah R. Lalk, both assistant clinical professors in MSU’s Department of Geosciences, worked with Partnership Middle School to develop the system, which contains a variety of weather instruments including a thermometer, barometer, a rain gauge, a slingshot psychrometer. , anemometer and wind vane.

“The Weather Station is designed to be an interactive and hands-on experience for students,” Gutter said. “Students will be provided with a sheet to record daily measurements of temperature, pressure, type and amount of precipitation, relative humidity, wind speed and direction. Students will also be able to share rainfall data with CoCoRaHS. »

Lalk said the geosciences department will provide teachers with professional development supplies to help implement interdisciplinary activities related to weather stations in classrooms. “We hope these activities will help students understand how weather can impact all aspects of our lives and how we can use past weather measurements to compare them to current events,” Lalk said.

“We want to make weather relevant to students and hope that students will become advocates for weather awareness in their communities,” she said. “If you can engage a child in a topic they enjoy interacting with, they’re more likely to be interested in that topic well into adulthood.”

Jorine Neal, Principal of Partnership Middle School, said her seventh-graders are currently completing a unit on weather, and the collaboration with MSU’s geoscience department will enrich future lessons.

“With all the weather events that have happened recently, I think the weather station is on time,” Neal said. “This will help our students become better scientists, developing skills such as observation, prediction and data collection, as well as practice writing about their experiments and sharing what they have learned. . I know my teachers are also thrilled and eager to learn more about it. Who knows, we may discover future meteorologists among our students.

Pamela Everitt, head teacher at Partnership Middle School, said science teachers will now have the measurement tools to discuss how the weather is tracked, calculated and recorded. “Weather will always be a part of our lives and this weather station will give our students a better understanding of what is happening around them,” Everitt said.

Amanda Tullos, director of MSU’s Partnership Middle School and education liaison in the Office of Research and Economic Development, said partnerships of this nature benefit local youth by connecting resources and experts to all students while throughout their regular school day and classroom instruction.

“Students can see their grade level standards come to life through real, relevant, and ongoing instruction and experience; learn from experts in the field; understand the impact and interaction of the weather in their daily lives; and see firsthand what a career in meteorology looks like and what are the steps to get into that career,” Tullos said. “Hands-on learning experiences of this nature are so valuable for building understanding and context, and when these experiences are paired with people who are passionate about supporting educators and instructing and developing the next generation, it is a mighty thing.”

Part of MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, more information about the Department of Geosciences is available at

MSU is the main university in Mississippi, available online at

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