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Date: June 20, 2005

UVic Partners With Schools to Create Educational Weather Network

A joint project between two University of Victoria scientists and School District 61 has created a unique network of weather stations at 20 public schools in Greater Victoria.

The goal of the Victoria Micro Meteorological Weather Network is to foster an interest among schoolchildren and the public in the two sciences that are fundamental to understanding weather—physics and mathematics.

“Physics and mathematics are often perceived as difficult and irrelevant,” says UVic climatologist Dr. Andrew Weaver, who created the network with Ed Wiebe, a research associate in the university’s climate modeling lab. “What better way to demonstrate relevance to kids than weather, something we see and feel every day?”

The project is funded with $36,000 from Science and Engineering Research Canada’s (NSERC) PromoScience program, which supports organizations that work with youth to inspire an interest in science and engineering. In-kind support came from Davis Instruments Corp. and principals, teachers and staff in School District 61.

“This project continues the strong partnership between UVic and public schools in Greater Victoria,” says Michael McEvoy, chair of School District 61. “It will inspire our students by bringing science to life in classrooms throughout the district.”

The network consists of a series of small, solar-powered instrument packages mounted on school roofs. The instruments provide real-time measurements of temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, precipitation, solar and UV radiation, and atmospheric pressure.

Wireless technology sends the data from each station to classrooms across the school district and to a central computer in Weaver’s lab at UVic. There, the information is compiled and displayed to the public in two-dimensional pictures via the Internet at www.victoriaweather.ca.

Over the next few months, the website will be updated and enhanced to include continuous movie loops of Victoria weather, satellite and radar imagery, and a host of curriculum resources for teachers and students. And more school stations will be added. “Our goal is to have a weather station in every public school in Greater Victoria by the end of 2006,” says Weaver.

It’s also hoped the website will become an invaluable community resource. “One of the peculiarities of Victoria weather is that it can vary greatly in different parts of the city,” says Weaver. “So, if you’re going for a walk or biking to work and you want to know what to expect along the way, go to www.victoriaweather.ca and you’ll know for sure.”
Media contacts:
Dr. Andrew Weaver (Earth & Ocean Sciences) at (250) 472-4001 or (250) 888-7591 (cell) or weaver@uvic.ca
Michael McEvoy (School District 61) at (250) 744-6520 (cell) or mmcevoy@shaw.ca
Valerie Shore (UVic Communications) at (250) 721-7641 or vshore@uvic.ca

UVic media releases and other resources for journalists are available on the World Wide Web at http://communications.uvic.ca/media

(image: fern)