Did you know that the United States is often significantly behind other nations when it comes to academic performance for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)? If your child has an interest in STEM, getting them started early will not only set them up for academic success, but it will also help our entire society live healthier by reversing some of these statistics.
There are a lot of different and interesting opportunities to get kids excited about science, but storm spotting is one of the most exciting ways. Tracking storms can be an electrifying hobby. From predicting how weather patterns will develop to tracking storms in your own backyard, storm spotting can be an exciting hobby for any age.
Do you have a child or a teen who enjoys science, weather or biology? Maybe they just simply enjoy looking up at the sky? Here are three ways you can get them interested in a new hobby and strengthen their love of storm spotting and meteorology.
Your kids can discover all kinds of interesting facts and processes about meteorology by exploring how science impacts weather. Head into the kitchen to conduct simple, yet cool, weather experiments like:
- Creating a tornado in a jar
- Making a homemade thermometer
- Building a rain gauge and/or wind vane
- Creating the water cycle in a bag
These simple indoor experiences are not only fun, but also let your kids get an up close look at the scientific aspects of weather. Plus, you can do them with kids across multiple ages with adult supervision.
Set up a storm spotting space in your home to give your children a place to explore weather activities, while also keeping their equipment and efforts organized. You don’t need a lot of room—an unused closet, a corner in the family room or a bench in a garage can give them enough space to hang their amateur storm spotting hats. Some ideas include:
- A desk with weather-tracking instruments and a computer.
- A bulletin board or whiteboard to keep track of weather patterns.
- An area near the kitchen or an area with a sink for conducting experiments.
- Pictures of interesting storm systems and weather patterns.
- A clear outdoor space for watching the sky.
Giving your kids a special place just for their storm spotting and weather pattern tracking activities helps them feel confident, excited and will keep them interested. It can also empower them to find their own interests in different areas of meteorology.
Tools and Technology
Technology plays a huge role in our lives—from education to recreation. Equipment like a hydrometer or barometer is used in storm spotting, but in addition to these specialized instruments, you can also track weather patterns and storms with apps and technology like:
- Smartphones, which have apps like Radar Express and StormEye where you can track the progress of a specific weather pattern.
- Wireless weather stations that you can install in a car and read data on a phone or laptop.
- Computer programs like Global Weather 3D where you can examine and track clouds with satellite imagery.
- Software, digital tools and websites for interpreting weather data.
Studies show that the sooner you engage children in STEM activities, like storm spotting, the more likely they will excel in those areas. They may not grow up to be rocket scientists, but they will grow up with a deeper understanding of the way the world works, which can help us all as we face challenging climate situations in the future.