The students at Butler Catholic School are turning into weather fanatics, thanks to the new AcuRite Atlas™ Weather Station! In the past three years, the school garden has grown literally from the ground up, starting as an unused grassy plot at the rear of the school. An alumnus built our first four raised beds as an Eagle Scout project, and the Garden Club was born. Over the past three years, we have added four additional garden beds for vegetables, a shed for tools and supplies, a compost bin, a 320 sq. ft. pollinator garden, and an outdoor classroom. The Garden Club includes approximately 40 students in grades 3 through 5, who meet bi-weekly after school to learn about gardening, growing food, environmental influences on gardening, pollinators including bees & butterflies, health benefits of fresh foods, and more.
This fall, we added the weather station to the garden, and the Garden Club students are quickly learning how the weather affects the gardening cycle, food production, pollinator habits, and more! Each week, the students are tracking weather data in their garden journals, including high and low temperatures, day length, precipitation, wind, and other factors that will help them in their gardening projects. They apply their findings to help determine when it is time to plant seeds in the spring, when the cold frame covers need to go on the beds (or come off of the beds) to help protect their young plants, and when they need to water their plants. In our zone 6A climate, these factors are essential in raising a successful garden.
The weather station impact goes beyond the Garden Club as well! All of our students in kindergarten through 8th grade have access to and use the dashboard to determine if the weather is good for going outside at recess, and we suspect they’ll be using it to predict if we have a “snow day” coming up this winter! Using the raw weather data provided by the station, they are able to practice their charting and graphing skills in Math class. And in Science class, the teachers pull up the dashboard on the classroom Smartboards for class projects, and the students use the school’s chrome books and iPads for individual work with graphing and tracking data.
We are excited to be “on the map” through Weather Underground at KPABUTLE38. Parents and community members are encouraged to install and use the Weather Underground app on their phones to track weather right here in our backyard. Family and friends are reporting how fun and interesting it is to be able to check the school’s weather from anywhere!
We are excited to see how else we can use the Atlas station in the months to come! With Pennsylvania weather being so varied throughout the year, we are looking forward to incorporating the station’s data into classes and learning opportunities as much as we can. You never know; we might just have a future meteorologist in our classrooms!