Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The 2009-2010 Student Climate 
Collaborative of Foot's Forecast

Forecaster Greg Jackson and
Photocaster Emily Rund with the
Baltimore Ecosystem Study  
Forecasters Mike Natoli and
Connor Meehan leading a hurricane
simulation for a county government

Program Basics

The Program: This no-cost, interactive, collaborative program is an investigative research effort between high school and/or middle school science classes in Maryland, the Mid-Atlantic and with motivated students and teachers across in North America. 

Our Objective: Provide teachers in science, and their students from grades 5 to 12  an opportunity to monitor, report and collaborate on basic climate indicators over the period of one season. Only data and verification is publicly posted on 

Desired Result: A multi-class collaborative effort results in one or more class accurately forecasting a winter weather event in their region well in advance of professional scientists using widely available climate data. 

The three classes involved in the 2009-2010 Climate Collaborative were fortunate to have their work on a front page story by the Baltimore Sun in December 2009. With Science Reporter Frank Roylance from the Sun, whom had been a long-time reader of Foot's Forecast prior to launch of the Student Collaborative, saw the increasingly bold forecasts posted by our team. On a festive Friday before Christmas, Mr. Roylance left a message on our site which read, "Mr. Foot - Give me a call at the Sun." 

Mr. Roylance's interview of Mr. Foot and his students led to the ground-breaking article above. After that, it was off to a media & forecasting race which continues to this day. Examples of all the science-centered excitement which has developed in the past two years can be found in our section titled "Read about us in the media."  You can also get a three-minute overview of the Foot's Forecast team history via this Youtube video capture of a December 2010 by Meteorologist Justin Berk of Baltimore's ABC-2 News.

  Previous multi-class collaborations

January 2010: Student and teacher teams are welcome to generate their own investigations for the second winter pattern. In the interim, it would be of value to do a comparison of how the pattern may have changed following the December storm: 
  • If so, how is it different and would this suggest the outcome of our weekend event will be different than the December 19 storm? 
  • Among the interesting data sets which have changed markedly since then are Chesapeake Bay and East Coast sea surface temperatures. 
  • This will no doubt affect the upcoming storm and what impacts it has on the Mid-Atlantic

STUDENT REPORTS as of 1.8.2010

Mr. Foot's 9th grade students at the Crossroads Center  
on Thursday co-investigated liquid equivalents for selected cities in the Mid-Atlantic, and calculated projected snowfall amounts based on a general 16 to 14:1 ratio of snow to liquid. Their predictions included:

Mr. D.C.
Pittsburgh, PA: 6.4" | Phila., PA: 3.6" | Baltimore, MD: 2.5" | DC: 1.5"
Mr. D.S.
Pittsburgh, PA: 5.6" | Phila., PA: 4.2" | Baltimore, MD: 2.2" | DC: 1.7"
Ms. E.C.
Pittsburgh, PA: 6.4" | Phila., PA: 3.6" | Baltimore, MD: 2.5" | DC: 1.5"
Mr. M.H.
Pittsburgh, PA: 4.6" | Phila., PA: 2.5"| Baltimore, MD: 2.4" | DC: 1.0
Mr. C.B.
Pittsburgh, PA: 8.7" | Phila., PA: 4.8" | Baltimore, MD: 1.9" | DC: 2.2"

Ms. Gerst's 5th grade students: Perry Hall Elem.
conducted the following analysis of local media forecasts:

First, my students discussing the Friday storm information posted on the main site. Then they investigated what local forecasters were saying about the storm. We happened to think of this right when the noon news was being broadcasted! Our findings:
- Sandra Shaw from Channel 11 said 1-2 inch dusting.
- Tim Williams from Channel 13 was in line with 1-3" that everyone else is saying. He was also leaning towards 3" and possibly up to 4.

My class noted the amount of moisture associated with the storm and concluded that we would get more than 1-2 inches for sure. One student also remarked about how cold the ground is right now. The class concluded that this would help the snow to stick immediately. The cold temps would also up the snow ratios. A class poll was taken, and it was agreed a 2-hour delay would be a lock, though many students also felt school could end up being closed!   - Ms. Gerst, Perry Hall Elementary

Ms. Abrahm's 9th students at Mt. St. Joseph's HS 
report the following analyses regarding the upcoming "clipper" snow event on Thursday 1/7 and Friday 1/8:

1/5/10: Students at MSJ spent part of their class defining "Alberta Clipper" in relation to the projected path of this week's storm. The MSJ students agree with present potential of a fast moving storm lasting approximatly 4 hours and depositing about 3" of snow in central MD. They also propose that if this storm potential is realized with a 3-4 AM arrival time schools in the targeted area would experience a 2 hour delay. - Mrs. A

1/4/10: The MSJ science students have been exploring the potential for a late week storm. Significant cold will stay in place with dry conditions until some moisture, that may arrive from the Gulf of Meixco to provide the fuel needed for a potential snowfall. The negative NAO and AO certainly provide the right stage. Students agree that tracking the moisture needed for snow will be the key for a storm this week. - Mrs. A

1/3/10 Happy New Year all! With the NAO still negative and the anticipation of it dropping even more, our early thoughts are that we could be in for a major hit late this week with a cold air mass in place. As we return to school on Monday the MSJ student collaborative will be going to work to examine the potential for winter storms. With exams completed, we'll be able to assist our public school counterparts. 

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