Ed. Note: This blog was originally posted on the Information-Creating Behavior in Learning Labs and Makerspaces blog. To view the original post, click here.
By Kyungwon Koh & Katherine A Hickey
School of Library and Information Studies
The University of Oklahoma
After three months of learning, making, and tinkering, nineteen middle school students from the Meteorology Makers’ Club proudly displayed their creations to nearly eighty guests at Irving Middle School Library in Norman, OK on Dec. 16, 2014.
Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Meteorology Makers’ Club began in Fall 2014 in collaboration with the University of Oklahoma School of Library and Information Studies, Norman Public Schools, and the Oklahoma Climatological Survey. The researchers, educators, and youth themselves developed a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)-based Maker program at the Irving Middle School Library.
Meteorology is a relevant and authentic theme for young Oklahomans, who are faced with severe weather such as tornados and hail in everyday life. Zach, 8th grader who experienced the devastating tornado in Moore in 2013, applied for the club because he wanted to study meteorology and share what he learned with his family and friends to help them predict the weather and storms. Students felt personally connected to different weather issues and had insight into the scientific and social ramifications of weather.
The final display of projects addressed a variety of meteorology-related topics from a kid-friendly weather website to forecast/survival videos and graphics to a rain gauge. Each student used their personal experiences and talents to inform their final projects. Different stations were set up for guests to visit. Students shared their successes, challenges, and collaborative efforts with guests, which included their family, teachers, school administrators and board members, university professors, and local librarians.
Bella created a YouTube tutorial video addressing items to be stored in a storm shelter. She initiated this project after identifying a dearth of comprehensive videos on the topic.
Emily drew six weather goddesses each personifying a weather-related phenomenon. The goddesses attributes and powers informed how and why they used their respective powers. Scientific principles behind wind, rain, snow, tornado, hurricane, and lightning were creatively expressed in her art project.
While helping his Grandmother plant vegetables, Grayson learned the importance of soil moisture and PH in gardening. He used a soil moisture reader in order to provide PH data to local residents with a green thumb.
Logan noticed a storm shelter is often too small to accommodate pets during a tornado. Using a 3D printer and Google Sketchup, he designed a storm shelter adapted to the needs of pets and their owners.
Savannah designed and printed differing hail sizes and shapes using 3D printer and Tinkercad in order to demonstrate the different effects of hail during severe storms.
Students developed forecast videos broadcasted on a large plasma TV screen in the school library.
Working with a mentor, students learned how to edit recordings of the forecasts using Final Cut Pro and Camtasia.
Aaron, Callahan, and Shen coded a website featuring the different projects by their peers in the Makers’ Club, as well as a forecast website for their school using data from the Oklahoma Mesonet. The boys also taught coding to other students at Irving for the Hour of Code event.
Zachary used a rain gauge to measure water levels on roads to increase safety of drivers.
Trey developed forecast graphics by collecting and comparing different news stations’ weather information.
Riley showed the audience how he created music for the weather forecast with Garage Band.
Irving students demonstrated how a 3D printer works facilitating hands-on experiences for the audience.
After an hour and a half of presentations, sharing, and reflecting, all of the Irving Makers expressed genuine excitement and pride over their accomplishments. Several students conveyed a desire to see their efforts sustained and developed in the future. Bella candidly said, “this isn’t the end. I’m going to keep making.” The final projects featured in the Makers’ Club Fair reflect the extent to which young people are aware and integrated into their communities. Students sought to meet needs they self-identified in order to improve lives beyond their own. Their motivation and skill reflect a generation eager to invest in the future and participate in creative realms long reserved for seasoned scientists and adults.