Monitoring Solar Radiation
|Sunspots, viewed through haze |
from forest fires in southern California,
late 2003. (Image from NASA.)
Why bother to monitor solar radiation? Here are some thoughts from Wade Geery, a teacher at Arrie Goforth Elementary School, Norfork, Arkansas:
"My [5th grade] students have already noticed a correlation between cloudy days and lower pyranometer readings…They are paying much more attention to the clouds throughout
the day now that they are analyzing pyranometer data each week.
By making many varied atmospheric measurements in a routine manner, my students learn what measurements mean to us all, not just scientists. I have discovered that understanding, and even synthesis, can be realized by even my youngest students finding patterns in their observations. By following established protocols, students practice the traits and behaviors of scientists. Each new class of students accept ownership of the measurement process; showing real pride in their accomplishments. Reports from subsequent science teachers confirm that my students perform better in high school because of their ability to record data and understand metric units of measurement. Perhaps just as importantly, automated measurements made by data loggers challenge my students to master new technologies. All of these activities establish a fundamental work ethic, increase student self-esteem, and empower student achievement throughout their academic career."