05 April 2013

DIY Weather Stations

Do you teach weather in the classroom? Do you wish you had more accurate weather data for you or your students to use? Are you a weather junkie who loves to have the latest super-local weather information at your fingertips?

If you answered "Yes!" to any of the above questions then I have just the idea for you, build a DIY Weather Kit! I have recently found two of the most amazing new tools for gathering hyper-local weather data for your classroom (or yourself if you're a closet meteorologist), but you may need to act kind of fast. Both of the items are on Kickstarter, I think I may have a new obsession/problem, and they both finish their backing periods this month. They are both fully funded and are guaranteed to fulfill their orders so you don't have to worry, you have nothing to loose. I have already backed both and am now just waiting patiently for my loot to arrive.

First up is Thermodo, a "Tiny Thermometer for Mobile Devices." This is a device you plug into your mobile device and will then have access to hyper-local temperature readings. How hyper-local? Stand in your house and it will give you the inside temperature. Walk outside and it will change to give you the outside temperature. Do you have a giant walk-in freezer? Go in there and it will give you the temperature of that location as well!

This is going to be such an amazing tool for teaching about temperature and having students gather data. No more wondering if the closest weather station is actually accurate for where you are physically located. You can send a couple of students outside with a mobile device (I'll be using iPads) and Thermodo and they'll come back with hyper-local temperature data for your exact location. I haven't even gone into ideas of using it to compare temperatures inside the building verses outside. Or how about when you know your classroom is hotter than the district mandated 75 degrees your thermostat is pre-programmed to? You can actually have proof without having to call the district maintenance crew to come out and check. This device is worth it's weight in gold.

Great, but what's it cost? As long as you back the project before Tuesday, April 9th at 12:00pm MDT, you can pick one up for as low as $25 and choose either a black, white or red Thermodo device. If you would prefer a premium anodized aluminum one, it'll cost you $39. After that you can select any number of combinations of Thermodo devices and other accessories. My advice, get what I selected and go for the Thermodo set where you get 1 black, white or red device AND 1 premium anodized aluminum device for $64, so I for sure have two devices right around the start of next school year.

What if you either don't want to back the Kickstarter campaign or you miss the chance because you are reading this after the project has ended? Seeing the popularity of this product, 818% funded as of writing this, I am pretty sure the Robocat, the makers of Thermodo, will offer it for sale after they have caught up on fulfilling their Kickstarter campaign. Keep an eye out for it, and I will try to let you know if I hear of anything.

For the second part of the DIY Weather Station, how about a Wireless Wind Meter that plugs into your mobile device's headphone jack, yet contains no electronics? I am really excited for this product from Vaavud (read the story about their name because it's a pretty cool story) because I teach in an incredibly windy area of town that is always more windy than any weather station shows. There are times when recording weather data from the Internet and it shows 0 mph, yet if you look out the window it's near hurricane winds out there. I am excited for my students to have a chance to have accurate wind speeds for their data collection. This will also come in handy as we are on field trips away from the school to compare different areas of town against our windy neck of the woods.

I'm also excited for the ability to use this device when I vacation and travel. They talk about the desire to track wind speeds for wind surfing, but what about flying kites with your kids? You don't want to be out there if it's too windy, so now you don't have to worry about it. This is going to be one handy little tool.

How does it work without electronics? One word, magnets! You just found another area to use this great device in the classroom when you study about magnets and what they are used for in the world.

Have I sold you yet? If so, this project isn't as much of a rush as the Thermodo is because the Vaavud Wind Meter has until Monday, April 22nd @ 4:40pm MDT to be fulfilled. It is currently sitting pretty with 112% funding as of this writing, so it too will also be completed. Whats the cost of this one? They have limited their number of pieces to be built to make sure they don't end up back-ordered, so they have about 250 left at a price of £30 (about $46) and then about 100 left of a special edition "Kickstarter Green" Wind Meter for £40 (about $61). A little expensive, but the cost includes the Wind Meter and a practical carrying case. The estimated ship date is June 2013, just in time for next school year!

Again, I have backed the standard edition and am considering getting a second one so I could have 2 DIY Weather Stations for my students to go out with a Thermodo temperature device and a Vaavud Wind Meter device with their iPads and return with actual local weather. I am so excited for these two projects I can hardly wait for next year to begin!

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and back a few amazing projects on Kickstarter and start building your very own DIY Weather Station. If you decide to back either project, let me know how you plan to use them in your classroom.

** An interesting side note **
Both companies are located in Denmark. Interesting that the Danish people are so into weather devices. I personally love it, but it's pretty interesting.

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