Dunkirk School 7 welcomed meteorologist Andy Parker and his Weather Machine Tuesday. Students and teachers alike burst with enthusiasm. As the students entered the gymnasium, their eyes lit up and expressions of "Whoa!" and "Awesome!" were repeated often.
The Weather Machine began as a lesson for about 15 to 20 children at a time in a classroom setting with experiments and discussions, but the appeal for it demanded a larger space for a larger audience.
"So I took the experiments I was working on, toyed around with them in my garage, and essentially supersized them so they could be viewed from a distance," Parker said. "That is how the 7-foot tornado came about and the 50-mile-per-hour winds, the lightning and the snow cascading through the auditorium, so a lot of hands-on stuff. It has just evolved over time as to how the performance goes for each school."
OBSERVER?Photo by Shannon Taylor
Channel 2 Meteorologist Andy Parker and his Weather Machine gave a demonstration Tuesday at Dunkirk School 7.
To have the Weather Machine come to School 7, parents, teachers, faculty and community members had to go online and vote for the school using the weather word of the day.
"We were always in the top three," said Principal Michele Heenan. "We didn't win the overall contest but they have what they call a second chance drawing. So that morning I was on the edge of my seat, watching the news."
During the performance, students are given the opportunity to experience weather hands-on as well as visually. Not only does it demonstrate weather but also science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Students are given the chance to see how solar power works, touch a cloud, see a tornado and bounce around a weather balloon, among other opportunities.
"The visual effects seem to burn images into the brain," Parker said. "They will associate that and remember some of the things that you explained to them. We have them for a short amount of time, but the amount of retention that we get from that short amount of time always impresses me."
Beyond the learning the students are offered during the program, Parker also encourages students to further their education by suggesting they pursue meteorology as a career in the future if it interests them or to engineer ways to improve solar power.
"We really wanted this for our kids,"Heenan said, "because it is entertaining and very educational."