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UW Partnership Provides Infrastructure for Precipitation Study at Laramie Junior High School

March 29, 2017
Teacher Dan Bremer and UW Atmospheric Science Professor Jeff Snider explain precipitation gauges.
Laramie Junior High School teacher Dan Bremer and UW Department of Atmospheric Science Professor Jefferson Snider explain the new precipitation gauges to a group of sixth grade students March 22.

This spring, sixth graders at Laramie Junior High School began taking their study of the water cycle to a whole new level thanks to equipment and expertise provided by the University of Wyoming and generous donors.

With precipitation gauges donated by the Wyoming Water Development Commission, College of Engineering and Applied Science Department of Atmospheric Science Professor Jefferson Snider helped secure funding from the John P. Ellbogen Foundation’s Engineering Next Generation Program to purchase Raspberry Pi mini computers, a desktop computer and other equipment to connect the gauges to one of the science classrooms at the school and to record the data. Snider also collaborated with Laramie Junior High School science teachers Joel Kropf and Dan Bremer and instructional facilitator Kim Burkhart to develop lesson plans around measurements and hypothesis-driven inquiry.

On March 22, Snider brought a team from atmospheric science to speak the sixth-graders from Kropf’s and Bremer’s classes. The students enjoyed learning about the gauges and asking questions as they engaged in some of the lesson plans.

“I think it’s awesome that we have this equipment in the school that shows kids where actual data comes from,” Bremer says. “Kids nowadays really like their phones and playing games and using apps, but seeing where all that information comes from is really powerful. It shows how science and math is really important and how it influences their lives.”

Kropf agrees: “We’re letting them know that this is technology that scientists and meteorologists actually use to collect real-time data.”

He also sees potential for eighth-graders studying physical science to use the equipment for data collection, graphing and analysis.

Snider was inspired to help when he saw outdated equipment at the school and had an opportunity to replace it with new gear. He hopes to continue the partnership: “We are planning to get a broader suite of weather sensors installed at the junior high. We are also planning to get the weather data displayed in real-time in the entrance.”

The teachers look forward to the students taking their science studies outside the classroom and taking ownership of the data to present to others.

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