Get Schooled: Montessori Students Build Weather Station (w/Video) is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

On a blustery January day in Yorktown, a team of amateur climatologists gathered to strategize how to install a weather station on a patch of land beside the riverfront.

Standing beside a white board, they talked over the day’s tasks. Their to-do list for the day included digging a post hole, painting a wooden weather station to be mounted to the post, adding thermometers to the station, stenciling a logo and completing a computer modeling project. It was an ambitious list, but nothing the seventh and eighth grade students at Williamsburg Montessori School couldn’t handle.

The students are participating in the GLOBE worldwide weather project, a hands-on science and education program focused on teaching students about the environment. Kids from more than 100 countries collect weather data and conduct experiments in the GLOBE program, contributing information for science research in the process. It’s been sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA and the National Science Foundation since 1998; GLOBE stands for Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment.

Montessori teacher Laura Newton said her class is participating in the Student Climate Research Campaign. The data they collect will be entered into a database on the GLOBE website. But before they could start collecting data, they had to construct their weather station.

Williamsburg Montessori students took turns digging a post hole for their weather station, which resembles a birdhouse. (Photo by Amber Lester Kennedy/WYDaily)

When I imagined a weather station, I pictured something like the NASA Houston control room shown in the movie “Apollo 13,” with workers manning computers and watching real-time weather data stream in on a giant movie screen.

That might be what it’s like at NOAA or NASA, but for the Montessori students, the weather station looks like a modern birdhouse, painted white to reflect the sun, with a tiny white flag bearing the school’s initials – “WMS” – in silver.

Inside the “station” is a maximum and minimum thermometer. Each day at lunchtime, the students will calibrate and reset the thermometer, fill out a data sheet and enter the data into the GLOBE program website. The station will also have an ozone detection instrument, and a rain gauge to measure precipitation.

Newton said the fun part is logging on to the website and seeing identical weather stations in schoolyards in Africa. She’s hoping her students feel like global citizens who are making a real contribution. They’ll definitely learn how to use the tools and collect the data, but they’ll also learn about something much, much bigger than themselves.

Beyond that, I noticed the students worked incredibly well together as project managers, with everyone engaged in the effort to complete the weather station by the end of their January “intersession” between semesters. They aren’t just learning about climate; they’re also learning crucial skills – working independently, research, reporting and most importantly, collaboration.

York Schools to Host Public Review of Proposed Language Textbooks

The York County School Division has begun the Instructional Material Review process for world language levels I and II textbooks (for French, German, Latin and Spanish). All textbooks and related teacher resources, student materials and electronic materials are reviewed and adopted through this process. Materials that support the YCSD Curriculum and correlate highly with the Virginia Standards of Learning will be targeted for review.
Parents and community stakeholders are invited to review the materials recommended for adoption.  The Public Review is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 1 in the School Board Office Round Room.

York D.A.R.E. School Dance is March 1

The York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office D.A.R.E. Program will host a county-wide middle school dance and activities night from 7 to 9:30 p.m. March 1 at Tabb High School.

All York County sixth, seventh and eighth grade students are invited. An entry fee of $7 will be charged, and students should bring school ID’s for express entry.

Activities include a jousting area, inflatable slide, obstacle course and games. Ron Herrick’s Magical Mystery Tour will DJ. Concessions will be available for purchase.

Individuals and nonprofit organizations interested in volunteering can call 890-3653 for more information.

Registration for 4-H Junior Camp Starts March 1

Registration begins March 1 for the James City County 4-H’s Junior Camp, open to youth ages 9 to 14.

The camp will be held from June 24-28. Registration costs $235. For an application brochure, call VCE at 564-2170 or download one here.

In addition, the Virginia Cooperative Extension seeks applications for counselors, ages 15-18 as of January, or Counselors in Training (must be 13). Applications are due March 1. For more information, contact Jeremy Johnson at 564-2170 or

 WCA Studies Black History

Williamsburg Christian Academy fourth-graders created this collage of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Williamsburg Christian Academy students are learning about black history in honor of Black History Month this February.

Fourth-graders in Shirley Timmer’s art class created a mural of Martin Luther King, Jr. for the Black History Month Assembly. At the assembly, storyteller Sylvia Tabb Lee spoke, while alumni Fred Mason and Jeremy Marsh and Dana Berkeley Derr’s Interpretive Dance Team performed. The WCA Tech Team, with Isaac Davis, also premiered an educational video they produced.