Students get lesson on science of weather

By Staff
Thomas Tingle
Record Managing Editor
How can you predict what the weather is going to be like several days from now?
Is it going to snow this winter in Madison?
Fourth grade students at Rainbow Elementary School have been studying weather during the month of November. To go along with what they're learning from the textbook and their teacher, Barbara Lattanzi, the students decided to get the answers to some of their weather-related questions from a local weather expert – Brad Travis, chief meteorologist of WAFF-TV 48 in Huntsville.
Travis came to Rainbow Elementary School to discuss his job as a television meteorologist and to find out what the students have learned about the weather, as well as answer several interesting questions from the students.
Using the Internet, Travis went to work on the computer, bringing up the latest weather models that showed the students what the weather in Madison was going to be like as far ahead as seven days.
"We don't always know what the weather is going to be exactly like, but we've got a lot of neat weather technology we use on the computer that helps us in making a forecast," Travis said. "We have to start big – a big picture of the United States. Then we narrow that picture down to the Southeast. Then we narrow that down to Alabama. Then we go a step further and narrow the picture down to the Tennessee Valley – where we live."
"When did you become interested in the weather," a student asked Travis.
"I grew up in Kansas – the heart of Tornado Alley, so I've always had a fascination with the weather and I've always wanted to have a job that was different each day," Travis said. "It's the same office, but what I do in that office is different. It's definitely not boring."
Travis reminded the students that the month of November is the beginning of the area's second season of tornadoes and that it is a good thing they are studying weather now so that they can better understand what is going on if severe weather or a tornado occurs.
"I spend time talking to other weathermen across the country to find out what is happening with the weather where they are and I try to determine if what is happening there will affect our weather here," Travis said. "Then, I spend a lot of time on the computer looking at all sorts of information that helps me to better understand what is going on weather-related and how that is going to affect us."
Lattanzi said the students have shown a strong interest in learning more about the weather and will take what they've learned and put it into a writing project.
"The more information you give the children, the more they want to learn," Lattanzi said. "In this particular situation with us learning about the weather, what better way to get more information about this subject than from someone we can relate to on television – a local television meteorologist."
Upon the completion of his presentation to the class, Travis was given a cake as a token of appreciation for coming to the school and was asked to sign autographs.

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