New weather tool teaches Winter Springs High students about forecasting

Students learning to predict weather, help school plan activities

WINTER SPRINGS, Fla. – A new weather tool at Winter Springs High School is teaching students about weather forecasting and emergency management planning.

The school just installed a WeatherSTEM system. A unit is mounted on the school’s roof and constantly ingests data that stream to computers in the school’s Public Service Academy.

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“Weather stem is basically a weather tower that gives us live updates by the second of what’s going down specifically for the Winter Springs Campus, said Cody Silvagi, Public Service Academy teacher. “It measures the lightning, it measures the humidity, it measures even the pollen. It’s pretty cool because it goes in detail. You can tailor it to whatever sport, whatever activity, even our daily activities of changing classes you can tailor it to that. It’s not coming from a textbook. It’s not something that someone else came up with. They’re seeing real-world changes and they have to adapt and change with the changes that are going on. So they’re learning teamwork and how to give the information to each other, so that’s really really a positive thing, because no matter what field you go into, whether you go into emergency management or public service or even in just in any job you choose, you’re going to have to share some sort of information.”

Students in the academy’s Emergency Response Planning program then analyze that data and make forecasts for campus activities ranging from sporting events and practices to the changing of classes.

“Predicting the weather in Florida, obviously it’s very rapidly changing in Florida. You have your two fronts coming in from the east and the west and it’s always causing problems with the weather,” said Andrew Knorst, a senior in the program. “But it’s really important to, especially being a tropical climate, be able to predict, ‘OK at 3 p.m. it’s going to be 98 degrees outside,’ and we need to make sure we’re coming in and doing exercises inside or coming inside,” said Andrew Knorst, a senior in the program.

Assistant Principal Jacob Jazinka said when administrators were designing the program, they visited both Seminole County Emergency Management and the Emergency Management program at UCF, and plan to implement student-created game-day forecasts like at UCF.

“So our students are going to learn to do that here. When you talk about getting kids excited and being a part of something, they want to know how it’s going to affect the daily lives of other students on campus,” he said.

The Winter Springs High School Public Service Academy is a Program of Emphasis, which means even Seminole County Public Schools high school students who are not zoned for WSHS can apply. There are three pathways: Criminal Justice Operations, Emergency Planning and Response, and Principles of Teaching. To apply, please visit the Winter Springs High School website.

About the Author:

Julie Broughton's career in Central Florida has spanned more than 14 years, starting with News 6 as a meteorologist and now anchoring newscasts.