North Surry High School science teacher Scott Kyles struck pay dirt on his first grant application to provide a digital weather station at the school. Kyles received $2,400 which completely paid for the project from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund as part of the PRomoting Innovation in Science and Mathematics (PRISM) program.
“I had been wanting a weather station for a while,” said Kyles. “I’m a real weather geek.” He explained that the weather station is a Davis Vantage Pro2 model. It includes ultraviolet and solar radiation sensors, rain collector heater and a dedicated desktop computer with associated software and Internet connection.
Kyles said he had checked with various groups with no success before television weatherman Austin Caviness suggested applying to the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. He said the data gathered from the weather station directly applies with the state’s new essential standards science curricula, especially earth science.
He said weather and climate studies will make up a third of the new earth science curriculum and said he felt having local real-time weather data available will be invaluable.
“The station provides instant weather data 24 hours a day updated every three seconds,” said Kyles. “Middle schools and elementary schools or anyone with Internet access can tap into it.”
According to Kyles, the installation of the solar-powered weather station was completed in September in conjunction with Ray’s Weather Center, headquartered in Boone. This effort evolved from Ray’s Hobby in Beautiful Downtown Rutherwood in 1999 to become the most widely read media outlet in northwest North Carolina with 4 million web pages delivered monthly to about 250,000 readers.
Ray’s Weather has partnered with local schools all across the NC mountain counties to install similar weather stations and provide local forecast information from professional meteorologists. Kyles said this is the first such partnership of its kind in Surry County. Ray’s Weather also is scheduled for an overhaul where Google Maps will be combined with it for more flexibility.
“This all started partly because there was no reliable forecast from Boone,” said Kyles. “Many stations because of their location just took off two degrees off the same forecast and read it for this area. Every day now we get a North Surry Forecast. This is something we’ve never had before.”
Kyles said the station also can link to national weather sites. Data tracked constantly included wind direction, temperature, air pressure, humidity and rainfall or snow melt rates for each hour.
“I was so excited about the grant. I felt like I had won the lottery,” said Kyles. “Anytime you take real world data it makes education more meaningful. Being able to walk outside, holding the data is powerful. Ray’s brings us into a much bigger community as well. Persons can look at all these other sites and use the data.”
Kyles said local businesses or individuals interested in helping to sponsor the station can contact Cynthis Lowrance of RaysWeather.com at 828-264-2030 or Cynthia@raysweather.com. Persons may access the real time local weather data at http://surryweather.com/Forecast/North+Surry).
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.