RACINE — A new weather station in Downtown Racine is providing real-time weather data and images to local news stations and Racine Unified classrooms.
A WeatherBug weather station was installed at the Root River Environmental Education Community Center, or REC Center, in September. Since then it’s been providing more and more information to local weathermen and students. The weather station was formally unveiled Saturday during an event held at the center, 1301 Sixth St., and attended by about 25 people.
The WeatherBug weather station is mounted to the roof of the REC Center and rises several feet into the air. It includes a weather vane, temperature and pressure sensor and liquid gauge to measure rainfall. A camera is mounted separately on a nearby side of the building.
The weather station was made possible by a $20,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation that was awarded in July 2010. The money paid for the equipment, two years of Internet connectivity and WeatherBug software licenses for schools using WeatherBug data. The licenses cost $1,000 each, said John Skalbeck, an associate professor of geosciences at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, which partners with the City of Racine to make the REC Center and its educational programming possible.
Skalbeck hopes to get more schools licensed in the future, he said. But for now only Case, Park and Horlick high schools and Starbuck Middle School are using the REC Center’s WeatherBug weather station data in classrooms.
The schools use real-time weather station data and online WeatherBug lessons on clouds, fronts, pressure and more to supplement their existing weather curriculum, said Keith Krukowski, a Parkside senior environmental geosciences student.
“It’s taking real-time info, like you see a storm coming in, and printing it out and going through it as the storm is passing overhead,” Krukowski said, adding that immediacy grabs students attention in a way outdated textbooks don’t. “It got them more engaged in it.”
Schools that fully implemented the WeatherBug data and lessons this past winter saw increases in students’ weather post-test scores, compared to lower scores the prior two school years, said Krukowski, who worked with teachers to implement the WeatherBug lessons as part of an undergraduate research apprenticeship.
The WeatherBug station’s information isn’t only available to students, though. Its data and images can be viewed online by visiting weather.weatherbug.com or on smartphones by downloading the free WeatherBug app. The information also sometimes ends up on TV news.
“If you turn on the news now,” said state Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, who was at Saturday’s unveiling, “oftentimes when they have the picture of what the weather is in Racine, it’s from the WeatherBug right here.”
REC Center Now Open
The Root River Environmental Education Community Center, or REC Center, is now open for the summer season.
The center, 1301 Sixth St., will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until Sept. 1. It offers hourly canoe, kayak and tandem kayak rentals. To make reservations, call (262) 818-4200.
The REC Center also offers free Root River Voyagers summer classes for students aged 7 to 12. The interactive classes cover energy, ecosystems, insects and more, and take place Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m. from June 13 to Aug. 8, except July 4.
To become a Voyager, sign up at the REC Center during weekend operating hours or call (262) 818-4200. For more information, visit www.uwp.edu/news/newstemp.cfm?storyID=6875.