How's the weather? Just tap into Manchester school for latest data

April 17, 1996|By Pat Brodowski | Pat Brodowski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WITH FULL support of the Manchester community, an Automated Weather Service at Manchester Elementary is up and ticking out weather data second by second, 24 hours a day.

Weather gadgets atop the school roof feed a Macintosh computer in the school media center that is accessible to students, teachers and anyone else linked to the AWS.

Exact details of weather in Manchester can be and are announced frequently by Baltimore television station WBAL. AWS stations across the nation can tap into Manchester's weather data, including 178 schools in the mid-Atlantic region.

Gail Riley, instructional assistant at Manchester for 21 years, wanted to bring the AWS to Manchester. For weather equipment, computer and telephone line installation, and a year's worth of telephone service, the bill was estimated at about $5,000.

"We didn't have that kind of money. So I decided to go to the community businesses and ask them to support us, and they were just wonderful," said Mrs. Riley.

She began contacting local business owners in August. Students at the school contributed, too. The system became partially operational in early December and was 95 percent complete last Wednesday. The list of donors is a long one.

Children would "bring in $2 at a time and put it in my mailbox," Mrs. Riley said. "I treat that donation as I do from the people who gave thousands."

Last Wednesday night, all donors were recognized during a community unveiling and demonstration of the weather station system. Each donor received a wallet-sized solar calculator imprinted with the school's yellow jacket logo.

Bob Waskiewicz, a professional industrial weather station designer, was lauded for his work on the rooftop installation. Greg Stefanelli, introduced as "the prof from Carroll Community College," was thanked for his voluntary help in installing the system, which includes a PowerMac for display graphics of temperature, wind speed and direction, rainfall and other statistics.

Requesting data from other schools requires only a phone call. Television stations request data automatically, without student or teacher interaction. Data are stored by the computer for up to five months.

"Our fifth-graders have started analyzing and hopefully will get into forecasting," Principal Bob Bruce said. "This equipment allows us to collect info and put the pieces together. They get a sense of what weather forecasters do and can be just as `D inaccurate," he noted. "This takes science out of the textbooks and into authentic projects with real data."

A student weather report is now included in the school's morning announcements. Students have formed a weather club, the kindergarten has a weather wall of stuffed fabric weather symbols and parent Debbie Waskiewicz designed a hallway "weather wall."

"Manchester weather is different from other places," said Mr. Bruce, eliciting nods from parents, teachers and business people at the ceremony. "This is an opportunity to put our neighborhood out on the map. [WBAL is] constantly using our weather station. They were excited, because we clocked the highest wind velocity in the region" during a winter storm.

Manchester's weather system has become a pilot program of sorts, Mr. Bruce said, because the county school transportation department has begun looking at installing five similar weather data centers in middle schools to help predict school closings.

Businesses and individuals donating to the AWS include: Eckhardt Funeral Chapel, J.C. Wilhelm Inc., Rohrbhaugh's Bus Service, DRM Associates, Westminster Bank and Trust, Lineboro/Manchester Lions Club, town of Manchester, Masonry Contractors, Dr. Wilbur H. Foard, The Tin Rooster, Hess Music, ++ Manchester Pharmacy, Black & Decker, Carroll County Bank, Eikenberg Printing Co., Subway, Marade Industries Inc., Longview Nursing Home, Manchester Auto Parts, Carroll County Times, Gilbert Paez, Julia Boque, Michael Palmer, M. McLean-Blevins, Bob and Debbie Waskiewicz, Greg Stefanelli, Halston Ericton, Jason Diffenbaugh, Donald Keresztenyi, Harold Becraft, David Yelton, Jacob Rugemer, Andrew Ireland, Dixie Hughes, Phyllis Woodhouse, Christopher D'Amario, Matt Hughes, Cantel Stein, Donald Daut, Tammy Slane, Gina Wallace, Michele Colehouse, Robert Swiecicki, Brett Naylor, Dr. Brian Lockard, Allan, Joann and Matt Ranoull, Steve and Robin Shutt, Harold and Brenda Rowe, Steven and Danny Stone, C. Scott Stone, Sandy Shields, Leroy and Barbara Myers-Jenna.

Information: Manchester Elementary, 751-3410.

Boy scout fishing derby

With a worm and a bit of luck, any child can fish for a winner at the Carroll District, Boy Scouts of America, 1996 Fishing Derby. It takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 9 at the Robert's Field pond, at Northwoods Trail and Boxwood Drive, Hampstead.

The derby is open to the public. Registration is by age groups.

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