Morristown-Beard School Rocks AMS WeatherFest

  • Jan 10, 2018

AMS WeatherFest is one of the first and most important events of the American Meteorological Society’s Annual Meeting. Each year, hundreds of children gather at WeatherFest to learn more about meteorology. There are a number of booths from government organizations, businesses, college students, and even high school students. This year, Earth Networks sponsored a booth for the Morristown-Beard School Weather Services students at WeatherFest. The high school students were a hit!

2018 AMS Demos

In 2017, two seniors from the program created their own functioning weather station to demonstrate at WeatherFest. This year, MBS Weather Services got more hands-on with demos for all ages. There were three important demos at the Earth Networks WeatherFest booth.

Ideal Gas Law

The first demo at their booth was a hands-on demo of the ideal gas law. Also known as the general gas equation, this concept is important in meteorology. It is the equation of  state of a hypothetical gas and is a good approximation of many gases under many conditions. The only problem is, PV=nRT is a little complex for younger students to understand.

The MBS Weather Services team got around this complication by making a hands-on demo using empty plastic bottles, corks, and LabQuests.

When you squeezed on the bottle you could see on the LabQuest that both the temperature and the pressure increased. The students did a great job combining everyday items with technology to bring this concept to life.

Cloud in a Bottle

The second and simplest experiment was the cloud in a bottle. This demo helps younger children understand how clouds form in real life. First, the students put a little bit of water in the plastic bottles. Then, they lit a match and blew it out, letting the smoke fill up the bottle. Finally, they closed the lid back on the bottle.

“Clouds are more likely to form when it’s cold. When you squeeze the bottle, the pressure increases. This causes the temperature inside the bottle to rise. When you release the bottle, the pressure decreases. This causes the temperature inside the bottle to fall and the water molecules to condense. The smoke particles act as cloud condensation nuclei, allowing the water molecules to condense and stick together around the smoke. There you go – a cloud in a bottle!”

Tornado Machine

The last demo at our booth (and the coolest looking!) was a tornado machine built by students at Concord Carlisle High School from Concord Massachusetts. MBS Weather Services have collaborated with students from Concord Carlisle over the past few years to send a weather balloon into the atmosphere and on other meteorological endeavors.

The tornado machine was a hit among younger WeatherFest attendees and caught the attention of nearly everyone in the room.

MBS and Earth Networks

The Morristown-Beard School, located in New Jersey, is a private day school that pushes the boundaries of education on a daily basis at both their middle and high schools. When it comes to STEM education, their high school Weather Services program is one of the most advanced we’ve ever seen.

The group, which consists of students from many different backgrounds and academic strengths, centers on the importance in weather and the interdisciplinary application meteorology has in their day-to-day lives.

The gather their weather data from their Earth Networks weather station on top of the school. They also use WeatherSTEM and Sferic Maps to visualize their data as well as data from our weather and lightning networks.