Meteorologist visits school - Catholic Courier

Meteorologist visits school

Thirty-eight students and three teachers from St. Joseph’s School in Auburn recently learned a little bit more about fronts, thunderstorms and tornadoes, thanks to Jim Teske.
 

Teske, a meteorologist for WIXT NewsChannel 9 in Syracuse, visited the school on April 22 to speak to two fifth-grade classes and one fourth-grade class at the request of one of the fifth-grade teachers, Beth Salomon.
 
Salomon thought the students would find his visit “cool and interesting” and thought it would help ease them into their upcoming science-class unit on weather. It’s important for them to “know what’s going on before they actually do it,” Salomon said.
 

Teske explained his job to the students by comparing himself to a doctor. Instead of a human patient, however, Teske studies and probes the atmosphere in an attempt to predict what it will do next, he explained.
After hearing this, fourth-grader Gordon Lukula raised his hand.
 

“Sometimes when I’m at home I make predictions of the weather,” he announced. Gordon said he had predicted the previous weekend’s wind, rain and thunderstorms.
 

Teske explained that although water is very visible during thunderstorms, water, or moisture, is a key factor in other weather conditions as well.
“Right now in this room there’s water; we just can’t see it. It’s in the form of what we call water vapor. It’s invisible,” Teske said.
 

Pressure, temperature and winds are also important elements to consider when predicting the weather, he added. Each of the four factors are related to each other, so if one changes, they will probably all change. To illustrate this point, Teske brought out an apple-juice jar, a bottle of rubbing alcohol, a cotton swab, a matchbook and a hard-boiled egg without its shell.
 

Gesturing to the empty apple-juice jar, Teske said he was going to change the atmosphere inside of the jar and make the egg drop down through the opening in the jar’s top. “For this I’m going to need a volunteer,” he added.
Instantly every hand in the classroom raised. Teske applied some rubbing alcohol to the cotton swab and then chose a student to hold the swab with a pair of tongs while he struck a match and lit the swab on fire. The student dropped the swab into the jar, and Teske placed the egg on the container’s mouth.
 

The students watched expectantly, waiting for the egg to be sucked down into the jar, but the cotton swab burned out before this could happen. On the third attempt, the swab continued to burn, and the egg slowly slid downward before disappearing into the jar with a loud pop.
 

Using a diagram he’d drawn on the chalkboard, Teske explained that the burning cotton swab created an area of low pressure inside the bottle, and that air typically likes to go from high-pressure areas to low-pressure areas.
“The air wants to go into the bottle, but the only way it can do that is by pushing the egg out of the way,” he said.
 

To remove the egg from the bottle, he blew into the opening, increasing the pressure inside the jar. The air wanted to travel to an area with lower pressure, so it once again pushed the egg out of the way, he explained.
Teske then drew more diagrams, explaining how the principle he’d just demonstrated could be applied to the weather. For example, when the sun peeks out from behind the clouds, that warms the air and changes the pressure, he said. Meteorologists often use tools, such as computers and radar, to help them record the current pressure, temperature, winds and moisture and to make forecasts based on those numbers.
 

After talking a bit more about forecasting the weather and life as a meteorologist, Teske showed a video about tornadoes, then allowed the students to ask questions. He answered queries on how long it takes to predict the weather and how long he needed to study to become a meteorologist.
 

Between questions, Teske asked Gordon to go to the window, look out and make his weather predictions for the weekend of April 24-25. Gordon rested his chin in his hand as he stood at the window and studied the sky for several minutes before coming back with his forecast – “40 percent fog, 20 percent high winds, 95 percent rain and 80 percent thunder.”
“I thought it was pretty cool to see how tornadoes are made and that sort of stuff,” said fifth-grader Brian Row. His favorite part was the egg experiment because “it was weird.” Brian said he sometimes likes to guess what the weather will be like, but admitted that his forecasts aren’t usually right.
Classmate Emma Christiantelli said her favorite part was the diagrams Teske drew on the chalkboard showing how the air moved.
 

“I thought it was very interesting. I think it’s pretty cool,” Emma said.
 

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