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Aiken Weather Watchers

Aiken Elementary School teacher Erin O'Hara-Rines helps her third-graders with a project in which the youth find temperatures across Europe on a Web site O'Hara-Rines created specifically for her students' unit on weather. The unit on weather is done in conjunction with the KTVB Channel 7 weather station set up last year which is connected to a computer inside the school's media center. Channel 7, an affiliate of NBC, donated the weather station and Airwatch' software to the school last year and began announcing Ontario's weather, recorded at the elementary school during their nightly news broadcasts earlier this month.

Third-graders at Aiken Elementary School in Ontario have gone one step further than observing the minute-by-minute weather Internet link from KTVB Channel 7's weather station at the school.
The 15-foot weather station set up last year at the side of the school and extending above the roof is con- nected to a computer inside the school's media center.

The Channel 7 weather crew utilizes the local weather station by looking up Ontario's weather on the Internet and announcing the weather, as recorded at Aiken Elementary, during its news reports. Channel 7, an affiliate of NBC, donated the weather station and "Airwatch" software last year, and Aiken Elementary supplied the computer in the school's media center.

About 10 weather stations have been installed between Ontario and Twin Falls, and Aiken was the first school in KTVB Channel 7's coverage area and the only school in Oregon to receive a weather station.

The weather units cost about $5,000 apiece.

Aiken Elementary School moved its media center during the summer. Because the computer equipment for the weather station had to be moved to the new media center, the equipment was only brought online earlier this month allowing Channel 7 access to the up-to-the-minute weather reports.

While Channel 7 utilizes Aiken's weather station, from Boise, Aiken third-grade teacher Erin O'Hara-Rines is utilizing the weather station to access data on humidity, rainfall, temperature, wind chill and dew points locally and around the world.

Actually, O'Hara-Rines went beyond looking up temperatures on the Channel 7 system by creating a unit on weather for her third-graders. The project began with a study of hurricanes during hurricane season last fall.

Much of the curriculum was based on questions generated by her students.

O'Hara-Rines said she found Web sites where she could guide the students to look up radar imagery and watch weather patterns.

"They can see firsthand what weather stations are seeing," O'Hara-Rines said.

Friday, O'Hara-Rines took her students on a "virtual" hike through Europe in the Aiken media center. The youth were led step-by-step through a Web site she created specifically for the research of current temperatures throughout Europe: "Trek Two A Hike Through Europe."

Students each filled in a worksheet containing a map of Europe with blank spots where the current temperatures were to be inserted for six cities.  After filling in the temperatures, the students charted the temperatures both Fahrenheit and Celsius on bar graphs.

The weather projects, O'Hara-Rines said, incorporate more than just weather for her students to study.  They also learn incorporate math, vocabulary and geography.

According to O'Hara-Rines, in terms of weather youth have learned about equipment needed to predict the weather and other instruments relating to science.

Prior to Friday's project on temperatures across Europe, O'Hara-Rines' students compared weather across the United States earlier in the week.

The third-graders will be studying weather for the next couple of weeks, O'Hara-Rines said.

"This is a good time of year to talk about weather and how it relates to their lives," she said. "Most didn't know much more about weather than hot' or cold.'" O'Hara-Rines said the project has been rewarding for her students.

"I'd like parents to know teachers are trying as much as possible to use these topics to teach to new standards," O'Hara-Rines said, adding the youth are thinking, writing and problem solving at the same time. "Weather is so interesting, students are enthusiastic to learn according to those interests."

 Dawn Eden / Argus Observer / January 31, 2000