Greywolf adds weather tracker

Each morning, a fifth-grade student at Greywolf Elementary welcomes fellow classmates by way of the school intercom, telling them what's for lunch, leading them in the pledge of allegiance and giving them some other crucial information.

Such as wind direction, temperature and rainfall.

Consider that a sign of the times, at least at the Carlsborg school where students and staff alike are plugging into a WeatherBug, a Web-based weather tracking system that records everything from barometric pressure to dew point to humidity.

Soon, people throughout western Washington will be able to gauge Sequim's weather, too: the WeatherBug is designed to link to KING 5 television, providing pertinent weather facts about the "blue hole" during broadcasts. A camera mounted atop the school provides real-time pictures of weather conditions that soon are to be available on television and online.

"Sometimes," said Greywolf teacher John Cole, "they (KING 5 crews) broadcast from the school."

Cole was working with Greywolf's science learning community when a parent in Rene Mullikin's class suggested Greywolf supporters invest in a WeatherBug. Not only can the system provide weather stats for television but, more importantly, it gives students a project to track

Cole and Stephen Rosales, last year's Parent-Teacher Association president, began asking for donations from the community to cover the $18,000 WeatherBug price tag. By the end of the year, despite donations from a number of organizations and community members - local real estate agents, in particular - their efforts were about $6,000 short. After a successful auction, however, Greywolf's PTA kicked in the final $6,000 and then some.

Now, with the system installed just outside the Greywolf main office, students get to keep an eye on their newest science project. As barometric pressure, wind direction and humidity change, students can watch it all happen - so long as they're not late to class.

"It tends to give students ownership of their learning when they pass that every day," Greywolf teacher Carla Morton said.

Morton is part of the school's science learning community. Morton's students are learning about statistics and probability with data from the WeatherBug.

Cole, with the school's math learning community this year, said he hopes to have the school's fourth-graders charting weather statistics by bar graphs and fifth-graders start charting by line graphs. A hope, Cole said, is that those same skills can help Greywolf students also improve their probability and statistics scores on the state-mandated Washington Assessment of Student Learning.

And, perhaps, some young students can become aspiring meteorologists.

"We'll see if we can predict rain," Cole said.

The Greywolf WeatherBug system is supposed to be available online but the school needs one more Internet connection - one for the computer data collector and another for the roof-mounted camera.

But Greywolf's WeatherBug stats already are on television: Sequim's weather stats scrolled across KING 5's weather report on Nov. 13.

"I'm excited, the students are thrilled," Morton said. "We're hoping the community gets excited."

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