Next week, six Morristown-Beard School students will travel with Upper School science teacher Jeffrey Yuhas to Seattle, Washington to present at the 2017 American Meteorological Society (AMS) Annual Meeting.

Morristown-Beard School is the only high school in the nation to have students deliver an oral presentation at this year’s AMS Annual Meeting.  On January 23rd, MBS seniors Taylor Grant ’17 of Morristown and Harrison Kern ’17 of Madison will lead a discussion entitled, “Learning Programming and Electrical Engineering through Meteorology.”  In addition, MBS students Olivia Braunstein ’17 of Warren, Michelle Corcoran ’19 of Hackettstown, Sam Nadler ’17 of New Vernon, and Rebecca Tone ’19 of Randolph will present a poster on “Bringing Meteorology to Students Through Social Media.”

Over the past year, Grant, Kern and MBS graduate Tom Margosian ’16 collaborated with EarthNetworks, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Global Cities Team Challenge, and the Internet of Things (IoT) Education Working Group to create a portable weather station which includes a pressure sensor, humidity sensor, and temperature sensor.  The students were able to apply their technological skills to a unique and experimental setting, working towards a product that will assist the entire MBS community.

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The students soldered and wired a Raspberry Pi monitor, which is used to record and store temperature readings, to a screen and the three sensors, and finished their work by programming an accessible, easy-to-use graphical interface using Python.

Unlike many typical high school projects, the future of the portable weather station is entirely open-ended.  With guidance from Mr. Yuhas and support from EarthNetworks, the students were allowed to experiment unlimitedly with materials uncommonly offered to teens. “This project gave me the opportunity to work in a discipline that I love with a project with endless possibilities, no deadlines, and all original ideas,” said Grant.

While students involved with Morristown-Beard Weather Services (MBWS) may not pursue careers in meteorology, their experience with STEM develops skills that can be used in other fields. Students are attracted to the program because it gives them the freedom and flexibility to use their diverse talents in a new and exciting environment.

“Although the result of our project is amazing, it’s not necessarily about the final project — it’s about learning skills and combining a group of people with different skill sets,” said Kern.

In addition to gaining technical proficiency, the students also got practical experience in budgeting, collaboration, and design.  After securing funding from the MBS Student Government Association, the students learned to apply for outside grants. The connections made with EarthNetworks were not only beneficial in terms of collecting supplies for the project, but also taught the students what it means to work with a large corporation. 

“Presenting requests in a persuasive way, along with overcoming obstacles which may interrupt the process, are fundamental skills that students need to learn in order to be successful in the workplace,” said Mr. Yuhas.   

This is the fourth year in a row that Morristown-Beard students have presented at the AMS Annual Meeting, which brings together more than 3,500 scientists, educators, students and other professionals.  As a member of the American Meteorological Society, Yuhas presents regularly at the AMS Annual Meeting, and makes sure that his students take part in the prestigious conference.  He said that attending and presenting at the Annual Meeting is an exciting opportunity for high school students.

“It’s a chance for them to see how science is really done,” said Mr. Yuhas.  “It’s not about being alone in a lab with a textbook; it’s about engaging with other people and exchanging ideas.  The conference also allows the students to see how meteorology brings together people from a lot of different backgrounds and skill sets.”