Forget The Weather Channel; the next time you need to know if
the weather will hold out for your beach outing, you need only
turn to the fourth-grade students at Robert M. Paterson
Predicting weather, tracking hurricanes and watching the
movements of cold fronts are now everyday occurrences in
fourthgrade teacher Trisha Holland's classroom, thanks to a
program called Florida EXPLORES!
"The program is run by a group at Florida State University, and
there are 162 schools in the state that have the program,"
Holland said. "We are a weather satellite ground station . . .
we have an antenna outside the classroom and we get images from
weather satellites. The messages come in as sound, and our
computer translates those sounds into images."
The images are then used to teach students about meteorology,
as well as enhancing their studies in areas such as geography,
space, the state of Florida and writing.
Weather images are transmitted to the classroom throughout the
day, arriving from one of three satellites (two American and one
Russian). The images can then be manipulated to suit the
students' needs; for instance, a student can superimpose a map
of the United States over an image, then zoom in on Florida and
determine what areas of the state are under cloud cover.
During a recent visit to Holland's classroom, students Andrew
Reinert, Chris O'Toole and Austen Packer demonstrated the
computer program's capabilities, zooming in on an image that
included a red dot marking the site of Paterson Elementary.
"It's a pretty cloudy, overcast day," Packer said after viewing
an image from 8:45 a.m.
"I really like using the computer and when the images come in,
it's really cool," said student Erica Burks. "It makes me more
interested in the weather."
"The information wouldn't be as current if we looked at
pictures in books," Holland said. "This way we can do things
like watch the progress of a hurricane. It keeps the kids more
Holland first became aware of the program when visiting a
technology conference last school year. She saw a presentation
on the program and decided to apply for it, learning at the end
of last school year that the Florida EXPLORES! program would be
in her classroom this year. …