Can a Sixth Grade Scientist Really Make a Difference?

Today’s blog entry is contributed by Boyd Grayson, Middle School Science teacher.

Is it going to rain? Is it going to snow? Will it be a hot or cool summer? Will it be a mild or cold winter? What are the chances of a tornado in the DFW area? Although these are simple questions, the answers are far from simple. In fact, meteorology is not an exact science.  Synoptic meteorology (the science of weather prediction) is still about a 50/50 shot after 48 hours and it drops off dramatically after 72 hours.  So how do we go about making weather prediction a more exact science? We get students from around the world involved!

The Greenhill sixth grade has become a part of this worldwide network of student scientists who will help other scientists from around the world learn more about our weather AND collect data that can be used in the future to help us all protect this fragile planet that we call Earth.

The sixth grade science classes led by Boyd Grayson and Megan Van Wart are participating in Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment program (GLOBE) at Greenhill.  GLOBE is an environmental program aimed at helping young students understand the importance of proper data collection and data analysis.  Students are currently participating in the worldwide network of 1.5 million students at 24,000 schools who collect scientific data such as weather measurements and water quality information.  They collect data and submit it to a worldwide data base to which professional scientists have access. The data is used to help scientists learn more about the environment at a micro level, more detailed than was possible in the past. To quote Nobel laureate Dr. Leon Lederman, “GLOBE is the quintessentially ideal program for involving kids in science.”

Lilli Stone, sixth grade scientist at Greenhill, says,” I have really learned the importance of taking accurate measurements and using the equipment is really cool, too!” Students get a feel for hands-on science with this program. They use instruments such as barometers, anemometers, psychrometers and max. /min. thermometers to collect real data, recording it into a permanent data notebook in which they sign their names. Not only does this teach good science, it also teaches pride and ownership of a job well done.

In the GLOBE program, students measure wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, relative humidity, maximum, minimum and current temperatures, cloud cover and cloud types.  The data will be entered into the GLOBE data bank for use by students and scientists all over the world.  In future years, there is a plan to involve all of the middle school grades in collecting other GLOBE data such as soil, water, and land cover.

GLOBE students contribute scientific data for scientists to use in their research now and in the future.  In addition, GLOBE students can access GLOBE data to use in their own research and projects, and participation in the project increases scientific awareness of their own environment.

Yes! A sixth grade scientist can really make a difference!

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