November 9, 1995 in Washington Voices

Small School Plays A Large Part In Science Project St. John Vianney Students Measure Environment, Share Data With World

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A small Spokane Valley parochial school is making an international name for itself.

St. John Vianney School is singled out for special recognition at the Internet site for the Washington, D.C.-based GLOBE program, in which students gather weather data and record it using the Internet. Photos of students from the Catholic school at 501 N. Walnut also are featured at the Internet site.

Worldwide, about 2,300 schools in 28 countries participate in GLOBE, which stands for Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment.

The GLOBE program began in April, with students measuring such environmental factors as air temperature, precipitation and cloud cover every day and entering their data using the Internet. Data from schools in the 28 participating countries is used to create climatic images of the world, also displayed graphically at the Internet site.

St. John Vianney was commended for involving the whole school in its data-collecting program. The seventh-graders teach third-graders how to record weather data, third-graders teach kindergarteners simple weather facts and GLOBE parents participate by driving students to the Spokane River to take samples.

“St. John Vianney is on the cutting edge,” said Ann Hardison, a spokesperson for the GLOBE program in Washington, D.C. “It’s an outstanding example of what young people can do in the classroom to help the science community.”

On the Internet site, four St. John Vianney students are shown in photographs. Seventh-grader Carey Kennedy is shown looking at a rain gauge with third-grader Katie Fuchs. Another photo shows third-grader Amanda Hartley standing in front of the school’s weather calendar with kindergartener Courtney Sexton.

Teacher Steve Barnum wishes all his students could have been featured in the Internet site photos. “They’re really excited about it,” Barnum said. “They feel that they really accomplished something.”

St. John Vianney is the only Spokane-area school that participates in GLOBE, which is funded by NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Created by Vice President Al Gore, GLOBE also provides valuable research data to scientists across the country. A scientist at the University of Oklahoma, for example, is trying to determine whether satellite images of weather conditions match what’s really happening on the ground. With simple daily measurements, students can provide information to further that research.

“The neat thing about GLOBE schools is they can provide information that no scientists sitting in their lab could ever duplicate in any way,” Hardison said. “In many ways, it’s a dream come true.”

, DataTimes


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