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Weather station expected to support the advancement of STEM learning at Aquinas College

  • Godfrey Burnside, right, and team members from the Department of Meteorology install the Aquinas College weather station. PHOTOS: AQUINAS COLLEGE

  • Godfrey Burnside, left, explains to Aquinas College students how the weather station works.

Published: Jun 26, 2017

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A newly installed weather station at the Aquinas College campus is expected to enhance student learning, provide an additional avenue for public access to weather information and support the advancement of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education at the school. The installation of the station was the result of a collaborative effort between the Catholic Board of Education’s facilities team; Dr. Danny Davis, an Aquinas College alumni, parent and assistant professor in the Chemistry Department at the University of The Bahamas; and Godfrey Burnside and his team from the Department of Meteorology.

The station is the second phase in the Aquinas College air-monitoring program. It supplements the particulate matter monitoring system that was purchased and installed at the beginning of the 2016– 17 school year.

When the team started to analyze the data, they realized that they needed wind speed and direction to effect a more complete interpretation of the particulate matter data and that the deficiency was most apparent when they looked at the data from the March 5, 2017 dump fire, according to Dr. Davis.

“To assist with the interpretation of the particulate matter data, wind speed and direction data were obtained from the Department of Meteorology. We had to assume that the wind direction and speed recorded at the airport by the Department of Meteorology were the same as at Aquinas College, but this was not necessarily a true postulation,” he said.

The air-monitoring program was implemented in response to landfill fires in the area. Measurements taken at the school showed that air quality on campus returned to pre-fire normal levels one week after the most recent fire. The data assisted administrators in making informed decisions as to when it was safe for school to resume.

The Aquinas College weather station gives students the unique opportunity to collect data in the field on weather conditions specific to central New Providence.

The solar-powered weather station provides up-to-the-minute data reporting on wind speed, humidity, rainfall, ozone level, heat index and many other weather parameters. The data is transmitted wirelessly to an indoor console, where it is stored and uploaded to the Internet. The data from the weather station will be used to supplement geography and science classes, support the introduction of the NASA Globe Program to the school and aid in the interpretation of particulate matter data from the existing monitoring station.

“The Aquinas College air-monitoring program is a model that can be implemented throughout The Bahamas. The Department of Meteorology will be able to use the data from the Aquinas College weather station, particularly during the hurricane season,” said Burnside.

Archbishop Patrick Pinder said he was pleased that the weather station was installed at the school.

“The recent commencement of the country’s hurricane season is an important reminder of the huge impact of weather on our lives. I wish to thank those who partnered with Aquinas College to install the weather station. It will be a great benefit to the school and the broader community,” he said.

Aquinas College officials recognize that weather affects many parts of people’s lives, from deciding what clothes to wear to their response to the threat of major weather events such as hurricanes and bush fires; and that issues of climate change, including air pollution (from cars, buses, bush fires, etc.); UV (ultraviolet) radiation; and risks of flooding are all linked to weather. As an island nation, they said, it is important to not only pay attention to weather during times of crisis, but to understand the daily impact weather has on people.

The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says that becoming a weather-ready nation improves a nation’s readiness, responsiveness and overall resilience against extreme weather, water and climate events.



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