By ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON
---- — BEEKMANTOWN — When Beekmantown High School science teacher Scott Danville discovered the school’s weather station was broken, he knew the district couldn’t afford the $700-plus to replace it.
So Danville turned to DonorsChoose.org, an online charity that allows public-school teachers across the nation to post requests for money to aid in purchasing supplies for students and fulfilling class projects. People who visit the site may then donate to the causes of their choice.
Danville created his weather-station charity on the website on Sept. 25, and almost immediately, a woman identified only as “Cynthia” from Queensbury donated $716 to the cause.
“I’m in shock that somebody had the amount of charity (that she did),” the teacher said.
Cynthia’s gift was soon joined by a $10 donation from an anonymous donor and Danville’s own $25 contribution.
Within just two weeks, the new weather station was paid for and on its way to Beekmantown High School.
The elaborate device now sits atop the school’s roof collecting a myriad of weather-related data, including information about air pressure, temperature and humidity, which it transmits to the Internet via a data-logger that Danville purchased for the school with his own money.
That data, combined with information from the National Weather Service, creates readings of the current weather conditions in the Beekmantown area, as well as a seven-day forecast, which is accessible through the “Beekmantown Weather” link on the district’s website: www.bcsdk12.org.
Danville’s ninth- and 10th-grade earth-science students use the information collected by the station to study meteorology and better understand how weather works.
“It’s another tool that kids can (use to) get interested in earth science,” he said.
Community members also visit the site to find out for themselves what conditions are like outside.
For example, Danville said, the district’s Elementary School teachers often consult the website to determine if it is warm enough to take students out for recess on a given day.
“It’s a weather station that gives us real accurate data here and the forecast (that) the community uses, which is great,” he said.
In addition, Beekmantown High School’s station is part of a network of other personal weather stations used to supply information for mobile-device applications.
“It really becomes kind of part of a bigger piece of the weather puzzle, which is neat,” Danville said.
One of his students, 10th-grader Kelly Barber, recently helped to set up the stations’s rain gauge before the device was attached to the roof.
“It tells you how much rain has come down,” he said.
“I just like how easy it is to access the information that it gives us.”
Barber and her classmates will also have the opportunity to report the weather information they collect, as meteorologists on television do, using green-screen technology that Danville has in his classroom.
“They stand in front of the green screen like Tom Messner,” he said.
The students will create their own weather graphics, which will appear during their reports.
Danville will also film the presentations and post them online for all to see at his earth-science website, EarthScienceIsCool.net.
The school was able to acquire the green screen, along with its original weather station, through a grant Danville wrote in 2000.
Over this past summer, however, when the original station ceased functioning, he wondered if future students would miss out on the opportunity to learn about weather in such a hands-on way.
“Thankfully, we have this one,” he said of the new station.
“I’m glad we have the opportunity for it,” Barber added.
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