San Juan Island, Washington
♡ Location & Weather Micro-Climates ♡
Stillpoint School is located on San Juan Island in Washington State. The marine environment and coastal location keeps the school and lesson plans deeply connected to nature because we are profoundly impacted by weather events. We frequently notice dramatic differences in weather across our island due to microclimates. During winter, it may be overcast and snowing in town, but sunny with no snow on the other side of the island! Our students often experience vastly different weather events at their homes and at school. The AcuRite Atlas™ Weather Station provides real-time access to essential weather information unique to our school’s microclimate.
♡ Educational Opportunities ♡
Our students and teachers use the AcuRite Atlas™ weather station multiple times throughout every school day. Students rotate through the job of meteorologist, recording the high and low temperatures each day, outdoor humidity, daily rainfall, pressure, wind speed, wind direction, and wind gusts. As a school, we predict future forecasts by observing the indication of the pressure trend arrows on our system’s display and observing fluctuations in the pressure recordings. Our students love the experience of being the daily meteorologist!
At the end of each week, we create a line graph displaying the daily high and low temperatures, and at the end of each month we make notes of the total rainfall and any new records our station has recorded since its installation.
Our AcuRite Atlas™ weather station is also used extensively during adverse weather events. During windstorms, we monitor peak gusts constantly, and during rainstorms, we track updated rainfall totals throughout the day. This is especially useful when we are experiencing the Pineapple Express, an “atmospheric river” weather system that brings heavy rain as it moves across our region.
♡ School Impacts of Accurate Weather Information ♡
In addition to daily, weekly, and monthly weather tracking tools, the wireless weather station provides vital information for school activities that are impacted by weather. As a brain-friendly school, we schedule three outdoor recesses every day. We use our AcuRite weather station to decide when indoor recesses are necessary for safety. In particular, we frequently experience significant wind events, and the AcuRite Atlas™ weather monitoring tools provides an accurate gauge of wind speed to help us make accurate safety decisions in real-time.
Additionally, every Monday we walk to our island’s Public Library, and the weather station provides accurate information about rainfall, wind, and adverse weather conditions, which may impact our ability to walk to the Library safely.
Finally, we use the school weather station to make informed decisions about whether our Physical Education sessions should be held outdoors or indoors, and how to prepare for Field Work Walks to locations within walking distance of our school.
♡ Safety: Lightning Detection Feature! ♡
One of the most exciting, surprising, and beneficial components of our new weather station has been the lightning detection and alert system! Our school has never had the benefit of lightning detection before, and our island in the Pacific Northwest rarely experiences lightning. However, on September 7, 2019, the Pacific Northwest experienced one of the most dynamic lightning storms in recent history. At Stillpoint School’s location in Friday Harbor, 69 lightning strikes were recorded! Nearly a week later, a 70th lightning strike was detected within 1 mile of our school. This has provided an incredible learning opportunity for our students, as well as providing an extra layer of safety in addition to wind and storm safety information and school weather alerts.
♡ Favorite Features of Students ♡
One of our students’ universally favorite features of the AcuRite Atlas™ system is the lightning detection display! This has led to numerous discussions about localized weather conditions and lightning events. Another favorite feature is the touch-screen technology. Students in the intermediate grade levels especially enjoy exploring the extra features contained in each touch-screen section. These provide a wide variety of opportunities for educational discussions and advancement. Additionally, our students love the moon phase diagram and enjoy looking forward to each moon’s phase. This provides the perfect visual learning opportunity for the moon’s phases and vocabulary terms, including waxing, waning, gibbous, quarter, crescent, new, and full.
“The AcuRite Atlas™ Weather Station donation has already greatly enhanced the STEM program at Stillpoint School!” - Teachers at Stillpoint School