AccuWeather School: Week 7
📓 May 22 - Homework: Send our meteorologists your questions!
More than 100 meteorologists work at AccuWeather, so here is your chance to ask them questions!
AccuWeather employees celebrate #DressForSTEM by wearing purple on Pi Day (March 14) 2019. (Photo/@tmgreyphot)
➗ May 22 - Math class: Meteorologists are math whizzes!
Did you know that a lot of math goes into the weather forecast you see every day? We aren’t talking about the two-digit high and low temperatures but very difficult math equations that all meteorologists had to learn in college!
AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alan Reppert shows us some of these equations – while they look really hard to solve, meteorologists are smart and figure out those equations to fully understand the weather and make great forecasts for you!
Don’t let those equations scare you from wanting to become a meteorologist. If you study hard in your math classes now, you won’t have any trouble solving those equations in college! And there is much more than math courses to see your dream of being a meteorologist come true – listen to the AccuWeather Podcast to learn more!
🌎 May 22 - History Class: AccuWeather has been providing forecasts since 1962
AccuWeather has been providing forecasts to your family before you and, for some, your parents were even born! AccuWeather was founded in 1962 by Dr. Joel N. Myers.
On November 15, 1962, Dr. Myers began forecasting the weather for a gas utility company in Pennsylvania. More and more clients followed – Dr. Myers provided weather to his first ski area in 1963 and first forensic customer in 1965. The first radio station to be served by AccuWeather was WARM-AM in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania, and the first television station served was WPVI-TV in Philadelphia in 1972.
Fast-forward to today and AccuWeather serves more than 1.5 billion people daily to help them plan their lives and get more out of their day. AccuWeather has offices in State College, Pennsylvania, Wichita, Kansas, New York City, and elsewhere across the globe!
How about AccuWeather’s name? That’s simple – Accuracy + Weather = AccuWeather!
⛹️♂️ May 22 - Recess: Tour the studios of AccuWeather
The national AccuWeather TV Network broadcasts from AccuWeather’s Headquarters in State College, Pennsylvania, and you get to enjoy a virtual tour of our two different television sets thanks to AccuWeather on-air meteorologists Brittany Boyer and Geoff Cornish.
AccuWeather not only has traditional green screen sets like most television studios, but also a more modern and sleek television set. The main difference between the two sets is that Brittany and Geoff can wear green on the new set but not the green screen set!
From these television sets, Brittany, Geoff and AccuWeather’s other on-air meteorologists broadcast to more than 24 million homes. Are you in one of those homes that sees the AccuWeather Network on Verizon Fios, Frontier Cable and DIRECTV®?
🛎 May 22 - Morning Bell: What does a meteorologist do?
From the list below, choose each option that describes what a meteorologist does:
Gives a weather forecast on TV
Creates the forecast that is found on your AccuWeather App
Chases tornadoes to learn more about these deadly storms
Teaches classes for future meteorologists
Flies an airplane into hurricanes to gather important information
Provides your local newspaper or radio station with a weather forecast
Studies how the Earth’s climate [typical weather for a given area] changes over time
If you said everything but number 6, you are correct! There are many more meteorologists than those you see on TV. Many of the meteorologists at AccuWeather work behind the scenes to make sure you and your family stay safe during severe weather.
📓 May 21 - Homework: Take deep breaths like this forest
A forest breathing? Trees breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen, but not like how you take a deep breath. They use photosynthesis instead.
However, let’s watch the video below – that looks like the forest is breathing!
What you are seeing are trees swaying in the wind and their roots moving back and forth. When the ground is really soggy, roots have a hard time holding onto the soil. Think of it this way – which is easier for you to grab, mud or dirt? Mud will slip through your fingers, not dry dirt.
Seeing a video of the forest breathing is neat, but when the roots don’t have a firm grip on the wet soil as winds are blowing, trees can easily get knocked down.
🎭 May 21 - Story Time: You’re not alone if you are scared of the weather
If you get scared when you hear thunder, see a dark cloud or any other type of weather, you aren’t the only one. One out of every 10 Americans may suffer from some degree of severe weather fear.
When you are scared of something, it is called a phobia. The most common phobia that you may know is claustrophobia, when someone is scared of being in tight places.
While people have phobias of thunder, lightning, rain, snow, and even the sun, it is usually not just the weather they are scared of. People worry about what will happen from that weather. Such as snow – most of us love seeing snow in the forecast, but someone who has a snow phobia is usually scared about getting stuck in their homes during a snowstorm.
After talking about scary things, it is always good to gather around for story time. So, let’s tune to the AccuWeather Podcast and hear if weather could hold the secret to history’s greatest ghost ship mystery:
🔬 May 21 - Weather Lab: Spook your friends with this exploding bag trick
Do you have a friend who jumps at the quietest noise? You will definitely spook him or her with this exploding bag trick!
For this experiment, you will need a zip-lock bag, ¼ cup warm water, ½ cup vinegar, tissue or toilet paper, and 1 tablespoon baking soda.
Watch how AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls carefully combines everything together. Don’t add the baking soda until you are ready to spook your friend! Also, it’s best to do this experiment outdoors so you don’t make a mess inside!
Why did the bag explode? When you mix vinegar and baking soda, carbon dioxide forms and increases the pressure inside the bag until it bursts open. See why we said it would be better not to do this inside your house!
🎨 May 21 - Art Class: Creepy skull face forms in powerful hurricane
Check out the video below – do you see the creepy skull face that appears in Hurricane Michael in 2018? Hurricanes are given names not because they typically have faces but to help make people aware of these very dangerous storms.
Maybe Michael created a skull over itself to warn those in its path – Michael was only the fourth Category 5 hurricane ever to hit the United States and directly killed 16 people.
So why did the skull appear? What you are seeing in the video is an infrared satellite image. The different colors give meteorologists a clue to whether a hurricane is strengthening or weakening:
Red and black colors = tops of the clouds are cool = numerous thunderstorms = strengthening hurricane
Green colors = tops of the clouds are warming = fewer thunderstorms = weakening hurricane
Skull face = scariest hurricane ever!
🛎 May 21 - Morning Bell: Watch out for those floating piles of fire ants!
If learning that fast-flowing water can knock you down or sweep cars away wasn’t enough to keep you out of flood waters, here’s another reason – dangerous wildlife.
It’s not just humans that have to leave their homes for a time when flooding is really bad. Animals that don’t live in water have to move to higher ground, and snakes and alligators can be found swimming in the flood waters where people normally walk or live.
How about this scary sight – floating piles of fire ants that appear during and after floods? The fire ants ride out floods on their own rafts. They may be tiny ants, but they can cause painful bites to you if you run into them – ouch!
A large fire ant raft. (Flickr Photo/Maggie)
📓 May 20 - Homework: Use your head to spark lightning – literally!
Have you ever been told “Anything is possible if you put your mind to it” by your parents or teacher? Well, we can use our heads to create a mini-lightning bolt at home!
All you need is a balloon, compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) and someone willing to let you rub the balloon on their head.
As AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls demonstrates below, rub the balloon on your head or someone else’s head to build up a static charge. Then, hold the balloon to the metal tip at the end of the light bulb.
Don’t blink as you should see the light bulb briefly flash like a mini-lightning bolt. This experiment works best when the air is drier so you can build up that static electricity.
⛹️♂️ May 20 - Recess: Batter up! Weather can help you hit a home run
For anyone who plays baseball or softball, you know that awesome feeling when you step up to the plate and hit a home run. Did you know that the weather can give the ball a little extra boost to get it out of the ballpark?
Your chances of hitting that game-winning home run increase when the weather is warmer. Warm air is less dense than cool air, meaning it can carry balls much farther. Alan Nathan, professor emeritus of physics at the University of Illinois said that a baseball will fly 2.5 feet more for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher the temperature climbs.
Air also becomes less dense when you drive up a tall mountain – which is good news for anyone wanting to hit a home run in Denver!
🎓 May 20 - AP class: Wet bulb temperature? Nothing to do with light bulbs or flowers!
Meteorologists give you a high and low temperature, as well as the dew point temperature for the day. Here’s a way to surprise your local meteorologist with how smart you are – next time one of them comes to visit your school, ask what the wet bulb temperature is.
Let’s start this lesson with a quick experiment – put some hand sanitizer on your hands and wave them around. Your hands feel cooler, right? That is because evaporation causes the air to cool.
“The wet bulb temperature is the lowest temperature that can be reached by evaporating water into the air,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said.
As the air moistens up, the temperature will lower – that’s how you can get snow to fall soon after you looked at a thermometer and it was several degrees above freezing (and your dew point was really low – meaning the air was dry).
⭐️ May 20 - Gold Star: Let’s see your static electricity hair-dos
We just learned how static electricity works and makes your hair stand up when a friend rubs a balloon on your head. Now, it’s show and tell time with your static electricity hair-dos!
If your parents say it is OK, send us your silly photos to Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #AccuWeatherSchool and see if you get a gold star!
🛎 May 20 - Morning Bell: Hair-raising truth of static electricity
Why does your hair stand up when you take off a hat or when someone rubs a balloon on your head? Or why do you get a shock sometimes when you touch metal? Blame static electricity!
You don’t see it, but look down at your fingers, toes and your entire body – you are made up of billions and billions and billions of atoms. Think of atoms as the building blocks of anything you see, and they are like mini batteries in that they have positive charges (called protons) and negative charges (called electrons).
When these positive and negative charges are the same, you go about life and not notice the atoms around you. But, your hair will stick up straight or you will get that annoying zap of static electricity when things are out of whack.
Shuffle your feet across a carpet, and you will build up more electrons. You are setting yourself to get zapped when you touch a doorknob or another person as your body wants to get rid of that extra negative charge – similar to why we see a bolt of lightning in a thunderstorm.
How about that fancy hairdo after you rub a balloon on your head? Electrons from you take a trip to the balloon as you rub it on your head – leaving you with a more positive charge and the balloon with extra negative charges. Opposites attract, and your hair will stand up high up like it wants to give the balloon a hug!
📓 May 19 - Homework: Water magic trick time!
It’s always fun when you can do a magic trick at home and learn about science. All you need for this trick is a balloon, sink and someone to let you rub the balloon on their hair!
Rub the balloon on someone’s head and then put the balloon near the stream of water from the sink.
Did you see the water bend toward the balloon? How cool was that!
What’s the magic behind this trick? Much like batteries and a thunderstorm, water has a positive and negative charge. When you rub the balloon on your head, it creates a negative charge that the positive part of water wants to move toward.
Special thanks to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls and his daughter for demonstrating this experiment!
📚 May 19 - Study Hall: Why are there so many earthworms after it rains?
Have you ever taken a walk after a soaking rainfall and had to avoid stepping on earthworms? Earthworms live in the dirt, so why do they come out of the ground after it rains?
If the ground gets too soggy with rain water, the earthworms will drown and die. Researchers from Penn State University say that the worms come out of the ground to get more oxygen.
As more earthworms come out of the ground, the more the air will smell like them. If someone says to you, “Ahh, the smell of rain is so nice,” be sure to tell them that they are just catching a whiff of dirt, worms or whatever the raindrop hits on the ground – as we learned back in week 2 of AccuWeather School.
(Photo/ John Shepard/iStock /Getty Images Plus)
⛹️♂️ May 19 - Recess: Mudslides are not a fun ride to be on
Slip-n-slides are fun, but a mudslide is nothing to laugh about. If there is enough heavy rain, a stream of mud or rocks can come rushing down the side of a hill or mountain – and that’s what a mudslide or rockslide is.
When you play in mud, you get dirty and can easily rise off in a shower. The problem with mudslides (and landslides) is that the stream of mud or rocks can knock down trees or homes in its path. Look at how powerful this landslide in China was last year:
Mother Nature is not kind to hilly places that have been recently burned by wildfires – it doesn’t take a lot of rain to trigger mudslides in these areas.
🔬 May 18 - Weather Lab: It’s a race between the ground, water to warm up faster!
We will start this weather lab with a pop quiz – which warms up faster, the ground or water? Let’s do an experiment to figure out the answer!
You will need two equal-sized glass or clear plastic containers and two thermometers – a soil thermometer and one that you use in your fish tank are perfect.
The soil and water had an equal temperature of around 56 F when these containers were placed outside in the sun.
Fill one container with soil and the other with water. Do your best to have the temperature of the soil and water the same before you start this experiment – one idea is to have both sit inside your house for a night.
On a sunny day, put the containers outside and start the race to see which one warms up faster.
Spoiler alert – the soil will warm up faster than the water, and that happens every day across the globe! In fact, ocean water temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere typically aren’t at their warmest until early September – way past the “dog days of summer.”
After both containers sat in the sun for several hours, the temperature of the soil is near 95 F and the temperature of the water is in the lower 80s.
The ground warming up faster, and then cooling down quicker than water, is another key reason why we have weather.
🛎 May 19 - Morning Bell: Dams have been around for thousands of years
Did you know that ancient Egyptians built the first known dam around 2950-2750 B.C.? Fast-forward thousands of years, and there are nearly 84,000 dams across the United States and about 7,000 large dams in Europe.
Most of the dams in the U.S. were completed between the years of 1951 to 1990, FEMA said, and many were built for us to go boating or swimming in. Providing water supply, flood protection and electricity are some of the other uses for dams.
The Hoover Dam near Las Vegas creates enough electricity to power 1.3 million homes in Nevada, Arizona and California. If you took all of the water out of Lake Mead, which Hoover Dam forms, a foot of water would cover the entire state of Pennsylvania, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.
Unless you visit a dam, you usually don’t hear about them until one breaks – the good thing is that doesn’t happen often. In central Massachusetts, you can visit the site of one dam disaster that happened back in 1874. Gather around and find out where this dam was located and what caused it to fail in AccuWeather’s This Date in Weather History podcast:
📓 May 18 - Homework: Look for the remains of a shooting star after it rains!
Have you ever seen a shooting star streak across the sky? That’s a meteor that burns up as it enters Earth’s atmosphere. Every day, NASA says that the Earth’s atmosphere is struck by millions of meteoroids and micrometeoroids. Many are too small to create the dazzling show that shooting stars put on, but tiny pieces can still reach the ground.
You can go on a scavenger hunt to find micrometeoroids in your yard! You will need a big bowl, small zip lock bag, light-colored piece of paper (folded in half to put a crease in the middle), a strong magnet and a microscope – what we are looking for is smaller than a grain of sand.
The next time rain is in your forecast, put a big bowl outside. We are going to sift through the rainwater to find the micrometeoroids using the magnet, which you’ve sealed inside the zip lock bag.
After you move the magnet back and forth in the water, put the magnet (which should still be in the bag) in the crease of the paper. Remove the magnet from the bag and then the bag from the paper – if there are black pieces left behind on the paper, those may be micrometeoroids.
To know for sure, look underneath a microscope – any pieces that are round and shiny are likely remains from a shooting star!
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid meteor shower near Kraljevine on mountain Smetovi in the early morning August 12, 2015. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)
Thanks to AccuWeather's Brian Lada and Science South for tips on how to do this scavenger hunt!
📝 May 18 - Pop quiz! What planet is the hottest in our solar system?
Did you guess Mercury since it’s the closest planet to the sun? Temperatures can soar to 800 F during the day on Mercury, but Venus is even hotter and is the correct answer!
“Venus is the hottest planet in our solar system due to an extreme greenhouse effect (its atmosphere is mostly all carbon dioxide),” AccuWeather Digital Journalist and Meteorologist Brian Lada said. “Temperatures can rise above 850 F!”
What planet gets the prize for being the coldest? Brian said that’s Uranus. Temperatures in this atmosphere of this blue planet can plummet under minus 370 F.
⛹️♂️ May 18 - Recess: Saturn would float in a bathtub, if you found a really big bathtub!
Let’s go back to our last lesson about how much you would weigh on other planets. If you are 100 pounds on Earth, you would weigh 252.8 pounds on Jupiter but only 106.5 pounds on Saturn.
Saturn is the second-largest planet in our solar system and 764 times larger than Earth, so why wouldn’t you weigh much more there? It’s not just the size of Saturn (and the other planets) but also what it’s made of that goes into figuring out your new weight on our journey through the solar system.
An image of Saturn taken through a telescope on June 8, 2018. (Photo/Charlie Golden)
“Saturn is made up of light gas while the Earth is made up of dense rock,” AccuWeather Digital Journalist and Meteorologist Brian Lada said. “That is why you would almost weigh the same on the large planet of Saturn compared to the smaller Earth.”
Brian also learned from NASA that Saturn is very light for its size and is even less dense than water. That means Saturn would float in a bathtub – if you could find one big enough for it and its rings!
➗ May 18 - Math class: How much would you weigh on other planets, the sun?
We found out how old we would be if we lived on different planets earlier, now let’s find out how much we would weigh!
If you weighed 100 pounds on Earth, this is how much you would weigh elsewhere in the solar system (though the last four planets don’t have a hard surface on which to put a scale down and weigh yourself!):
Mercury - 37.8 pounds
Venus - 90.7 pounds
Mars - 37.7 pounds
Jupiter - 252.8 pounds
Saturn - 106.5 pounds
Uranus - 88.9 pounds
Neptune - 112.5 pounds
Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system, so it makes sense that you would weigh the most there. The bigger the planet, the more that gravity is pulling on you and (for most cases) the more you will weigh. The sun is so big that you would weigh just over 2,700 pounds if you could stand on it, Exploratorium Museum calculated!
But, there’s more to this math problem – stay tuned to learn why you wouldn’t weigh so much more on Saturn even though it is massive compared to Earth’s size.
🛎 May 18 - Morning Bell: You would still be a baby on many other planets!
AccuWeather School is taking a field trip to each planet in our solar system to learn how different life would be – starting with which planets are the worst for birthday parties.
If you are 12 years old with a birthday of today (May 18), this is how old you would be on the other planets:
Mercury - 50 years old
Venus - 19.5 years old
Mars - 6 years old
Jupiter - 1 year old
Saturn - You wouldn’t turn 1 until Nov. 1, 2037
Uranus - You wouldn’t turn 1 until May 22, 2092
Neptune - You wouldn’t turn 1 until March 3, 2173
You get a year older for every trip around the sun you take with Earth. Since Earth is roughly 93 millions away from the sun, it takes Earth just over 365 days to make that trip.
Mercury is closest to the sun at 35 million miles, so you would celebrate a birthday every 88 days! Neptune is 2.8 billion miles away – the planet that’s farthest from the sun in our solar system. It takes 60,190 Earth days for Neptune to make one trip around the sun – not good news if you like eating birthday cake!
Special thanks to AccuWeather’s Erik Austin and the Exploratorium Museum for helping to calculate your new ages!
Additional experiments and reporting by Jason Nicholls.
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