MSU Department of Geosciences, Partnership Middle School install interactive weather station, help students become ‘citizen scientists’

MSU Department of Geosciences Assistant Clinical Professors Sarah Lalk and Barrett Gutter show Partnership Middle School students how the weather can be used to collect data such as temperature, barometric pressure, precipitation, wind speed and humidity. (Photo by Grace Cockrell)

Contact: Sarah Nicholas

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Mississippi State’s Department of Geosciences, in co-operation with the Partnership Middle School — Starkville Oktibbeha County School District’s sixth and seventh grades — this week officially opened the interactive weather station daily weather.

Modeled after the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, the Co-opaHS for short, research database — a non-profit, community-based network of volunteers working together to measure and map precipitation. Established in 1998 at Colorado State University, CoCoRaHA has partnerships in all 50 US states.

Barrett F. Gutter and Sarah R. Lalk, both clinical assistant professors in MSU’s Department of Geosciences, have worked with the Partnership Middle School in developing the system, which contains a variety of meteorological instruments including a thermometer, barometer, rain gauge, sling psychrometer , anemometer and wind vane.

“The weather station is designed to be interactive, hands-on experience for the students,” Gutter said. “Students will be provided daily record of temperature, pressure, precipitation type and amount, relative humidity, wind speed and wind direction. Students also will be able to share data precipitation with the CoCoRaHS. ”

They will provide teachers with professional development supplies to help implement cross-regulatory, weather station-related activities into classrooms. “We hope these activities will help students to learn about the effects of our lives and how we are going to do this,” Lalk said.

“We want to make weather relevant to students and hopefully the students become weather awareness advocates in their communities,” she said. “If you can get a child involved in a subject, they are more likely to have a continuing interest in that subject into adulthood.”

Jorine Neal, Partnership Middle School principal, said her seventh grade students

“With all the weather events happening recently, I think the weather station is right on time,” Neal said. “This will help our students become better scientists — developing such skills as observing, predicting and collecting data — as best as practicing writing about their experiences and sharing what they have learned. I know my teachers are excited as well and look forward to learning more about this. Who knows, we may discover some future meteorologists among our students. ”

Pamela Everitt, Partnership Middle School lead teacher, said science teachers will now have the measurement tools to discuss how weather is tracked, calculated and recorded. “Weather will always be part of our lives and this weather station is going to provide our students with a deeper understanding of what is happening around them,” Everitt said.

Amanda Tullos, MSU’s director of the Partnership Middle School and education liaison in the Office of Research and Economic Development, said partnerships of this nature benefit local youth by connecting resources and experts to all students through their normal school day and classroom instruction.

“Students can see their grade-level standards come alive in real, relevant, ongoing instruction and experimentation; learn from experts in the field; understand the impact and interaction of weather in their everyday life; and see what a career in meteorology looks like and what the steps are to access that career, ”Tullos said. “Hands-on learning experiences of this nature are so valuable in developing understanding and context, and when these experiences are partnered with passionate people about supporting educators and instructing and developing the next generation, it’s a powerful thing.”

Part of MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, more information about the Department of Geosciences is available at

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

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