CHAPEL HILL, NC, May 5, 2008 – Three counties in North Carolina will soon have detailed information about the weather patterns in their region and new classroom curricula that uses real-time weather station information as a result of the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) Weather Web competition. The winners are Yancey, Hyde and Alexander counties.
Each county will acquire a research and operational grade weather station through the Weather Web project, which is aimed at enhancing weather-related K-12 education and improving the quantity and quality of weather data in underserved areas of the state.
“The new weather stations provided through the Weather Web project will provide comprehensive data from areas of the state where we have not been able to obtain data,” said Ryan Boyles, state climatologist and director of the State Climate Office at North Carolina State University. “The data will provide citizens, disaster response researchers, state climatologist, emergency responders, agricultural managers and others with data that can improve severe weather management, weather forecasts, emergency planning, and natural resource management.”
In collaboration with the State Climate Office (SCO) and MCNC’s North Carolina Research Education Network (NCREN), RENCI sent out a challenge to schools in the 36 North Carolina counties that lack research grade weather stations, challenging them to develop lesson plans in meteorology and atmospheric sciences that would use the real-time data collected by a weather station. The call for proposals was issued in February and by the March 17 deadline, RENCI had received proposals from individual schools, a partnership of schools and teachers from the targeted counties.
The winning proposals came from Alexander Central High School in Taylorsville in the west central part of the state; Ocracoke School on Ocracoke Island on the Outer Banks; and from a collaboration of several schools in Yancey County in the Appalachian Mountains near the Tennessee border.
“Teachers from Alexander, Hyde and Yancey counties submitted a variety of original curricula aimed at students in fourth through 12th grade,” said Jennifer Shelton, RENCI Weather Web project manager. “The proposals included lesson plans for math, physical science, earth and environmental science, horticulture, social studies and language arts. The hands-on curricula introduce live weather data to NC students.”
Each proposal also included student essays on the local benefits of weather stations. The recipient of the “most outstanding student essay” was awarded to Allison Turner, a ninth grader at Camden High School in Camden County. Turner will receive a gift certificate to Amazon.com, and her school will receive the Tropical Weather Tracking Kit from Carolina Biological Supply Company.
A team of representatives from RENCI, the SCO and MCNC reviewed the proposals and essays. Originally, the contest planned to award two weather stations, paid for by RENCI. As part of its partnership in the project, MCNC agreed to pay the cost of a third weather station.
The SCO will install the weather stations in late summer at sites determined most suitable in the winning counties. Events in each of the winning counties are tentatively planned for fall to celebrate the occasion.
The winning curricula will be posted on this website in June. All data from the awarded stations, and from existing stations in the state, are available on the SCO website at http://www.nc-climate.ncsu.edu/cronos.
The Renaissance Computing Institute brings together teams of talented researchers, engineers, technologists and leaders in government, business, the arts and humanities to attack major research questions and community issues in ways that accelerate discovery and drive innovation. RENCI has nationally significant expertise and capabilities in high performance computing, visualization, collaborative tools, networking, device prototyping, and data systems as well as engagement sites across the state. Founded in 2004 as a major collaborative venture of Duke University, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the state of North Carolina, RENCI is a statewide virtual organization. For more, see www.renci.org.
Since 1985, MCNC has collaborated with the University of North Carolina’s 16 campuses to develop and operate the N.C. Research and Education Network (NCREN) – one of the nation’s first statewide education and research networks. Today, the NCREN community is expanding in partnership with state government and the N.C. Department of Public Instruction to provide advanced communications and network support for a seamless K-20 education experience for all public education institutions in North Carolina, adding all K-12 schools and community colleges as NCREN customers. For more information, please visit www.mcnc.org.