BOULDER -- Middle schoolers in Boulder and beyond will go head to headwith Denver TV meteorologist Mike Nelson in an on-line forecastingcontest February 8-11. The competition is part of a kids' Web sitedesigned by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR)and collaborators. Web Weather for Kids was awarded a $10,000 prize lastweek from the technology firm Unisys and the American Association forthe Advancement of Science.
In January the new site received the first annual AAAS-Unisys Prize forAchievement in Online Science Education. It was chosen out of 15 Websites built through minigrants from Unisys as part of National PublicScience Day 2000. Sponsored by AAAS,National Public Science Day will be celebrated on February 17 at theAAAS annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Web Weather for Kids can befound at http://www.ucar.edu/40th/webweather.
The team behind Web Weather for Kids included participants from UCAR,the University of Colorado (CU) Science Discovery program, and theBoulder Valley School District.
With a cartoon raindrop guiding students, Web Weather for Kids teacheshow thunderstorms and tornadoes are formed and how to gauge thunderstormdistance by counting the seconds between lightning and thunder.Information on floods, blizzards, and other phenomena will be added asthe site expands. The material was drawn largely from hands-onexperiments for teachers developed in the 1990s at UCAR and supported bythe National Science Foundation. The new Web site was classroom-testedlast fall by over 100 sixth graders at Casey Middle School in Boulder.
The judging panel for the Unisys Prize consisted of a classroom teacher,a science museum professional, a science educator, and a specialist ineducational technology. According to Karen Elinich, director ofeducational technology at the Franklin Institute Science Museum inPhiladelphia, "the site displays a sophisticated grasp of scientificprinciples as well as the whimsy required to catch the imagination ofboth teachers and students."
This month's on-line forecast contest is aimed at BVSD students but opento anyone born between 1986 and 1991. KUSA-TV's Nelson will join middleschoolers in predicting the weather each day between February 8 and 11.Each participant will predict highs and lows and give a thumbs up ordown for precipitation the following day at Denver International Airport(Denver's official recording site). Winners will be announced by PublicScience Day, February 17; they will receive UCAR paraphernalia andcopies of Nelson's new Colorado Weather Book.
"Every time we thought about what kids should know about dramaticweather, we gave equal weight to what they wanted to see and do on a Website as they learn," says project coordinator Susan Foster (UCAR). "Whencreative people in this institution partner with educators from acrossour community, the kids and the schools are the real winners."
The $10,000 award will go to CU Science Discovery to support teachers'time in helping with the site's expansion. UCAR's ongoing role in theWeb site design is made possible by Friends of UCAR, a giving programthat supports science education. Tax-exempt contributions are welcomefor UCAR's 40th-anniversary Friends campaign, the goal of which is toraise another $10,000 for Web Weather for Kids. UCAR is a consortium ofmore than 60 universities offering Ph.D.s in atmospheric and relatedsciences.
Materials provided by University Corporation For Atmospheric Research (ucar). Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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