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Climates in the Classroom


Mesonet brings meteorology technology to Oklahoma schools


O By Kaylan Goodwin


klahoma — where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain and the locals tell you, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute and it will change.” In a state where severe weather is part of normal life, knowing how to stay weather-aware is vital.


The Oklahoma Mesonet, a service operated by the University of


Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, is a network of 120 weather stations located across the state, with at least one station in each of the 77 counties. Through their website and mobile app, Mesonet ensures all collected data will be available to the general public. Mesonet’s services span all ages and many different user groups. Individuals in public safety, agricul- ture, forecasting, state government agencies and education benefi t from the existence of Mesonet. Valerie Lasseter, a teacher with St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School


in Oklahoma City, offered insight into what Mesonet technology looks like within her classroom. “Mesonet provides real statistics for stu-


dents to look at and manipulate,” Lasseter said. “We look at the data collected from different areas of the state and compare the information.” Mesonet offers exercises for students to complete while waiting for the bell to ring, PowerPoint presentations, an app that pro- vides real time weather information and many other resources for teachers to utilize in the classroom. Andrea Melvin, the outreach programs coordinator, has worked for Mesonet since 1995.


“Being in one place for such a long time has given me the opportunity to develop


10 DID YOU KNOW?


The Mesonet app brings a host of Oklahoma weather information right to Apple and Android devices, including data from the award- winning Oklahoma Mesonet, forecasts, radar and severe weather advisories.


long-term relationships with teachers across the state as well as other in- formal educators at state agencies,” Melvin said. “This has proved to be incredibly benefi cial to the facilitation of our outreach.” Throughout her career, Melvin has served on committees to review education standards, participated in professional development as both a speaker and peer and collaborated on events such as Science Fest Oklahoma, H2Oklahoma and the Wildlife Expo. “We are involved in a spectrum of activities from conferences, school visits, workshops, summer camps, single presentations, science fairs and any new ideas that are requested,” Melvin said. “Our whole organization is very service-minded.” The Outreach team consists of two University of Oklahoma staff mem- bers and two Oklahoma State University staff members, plus additional staff if needed. “Our Outreach team is an effective resource because we adapt to each audience,” Melvin said. “My approach is to determine what they care about, do my homework and show up with a few options to get through the time I’m given to speak.” Melvin believes understanding weather and how to gather information about weather is a crucial life skill. “Humans are inherently curious prob- lem-solvers,” Melvin said. “These qualities are the backbone of all learning as we need a purpose for learning new skills and we need situations that allow us to tinker. Studying weather creates an endless num- ber of situations or puzzles just waiting for solutions.” When children are given the opportuni- ty to explore the how and why of weather, they are able to use all of the skills gained through education: reading, writing, com- municating, mathematics and engineering.


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