student holding up precipitation gaugeA budding Climate Crusader holds aloft the tool of the trade during the project launch Tuesday.

Eighth graders enlisted in citizen science project

Thousands of students throughout Windsor-Essex are about to become citizen scientists by collecting precipitation data and helping support a better understanding of weather trends. The Faculty of Science and the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB) launched the Climate Crusaders initiative on Tuesday, March 26.

The precipitation data collection program will be headquartered at the STEM Academy at Holy Names Catholic High School. Each eighth grader in the WECDSB will be provided with rain gauges. They can set up the gauges outside their homes to record precipitation levels and upload their data, which will be collated by STEM Academy students for analysis by UWindsor scientists.

“This is a great example of scientific collaboration and it’s going to a valuable learning experience for all the students involved at every level, and one that will produce some very useful data,” says Chris Houser, dean of science.

“Through our partnership with the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, we’re going to be able to fill a void by gathering more complete information about weather patterns in our region.”

David Phillips (BA 1966), a senior climatologist at Environment Canada, was in Windsor to help kick off the new program.

“With the rapid changes we’ve seen in our climate over the past few decades, as well as some of the recent flooding we’ve seen in Windsor-Essex, it is increasingly important that we get as much reliable local data as possible to help us understand trends and better prepare us for further weather events,” says Phillips.

“Enlisting the help of local students will provide us with more comprehensive data, and will also promote a greater love and enthusiasm for science.”

The $1.2 million STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Academy was launched at Holy Names in September 2017.

“Some of our students have witnessed the effects of climate change first hand when their homes and schools were flooding, so they have a very real understanding of the issue,” says Dan Fister, WECDSB’s executive superintendent of innovation and human resources.

“This initiative will provide our students with more pragmatic opportunities to learn about fundamental research concepts, but even more importantly, how to use the data they collect to substantiate the need for meaningful action to mitigate the impacts of climate change.”

In September, two new STEM Academies will be launched at St. Anne and St. Thomas of Villanova Catholic high schools, which will increase the number of students available to participate in the project.

Sara Elliott

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