America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education grants are all about providing ways to engage students in school, promote STEM, and improving rural education. Dongola School in rural Illinois, an area of high tornadic activity, found a way to do all three with a $25,000 Grow Rural Education grant, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund.
The school used the new funds to purchase a weather forecasting station, linking Dongola to the largest weather and climate network in the world. This new system engaged students K-12 in the classroom, but also allows the community to prepare for hazardous weather. Dongola has suffered devastating storms, so community weather safety is key to the project.
The great part about the project is that it provides useful curriculum for students K-12. For example, Kindergartners–3rd graders report the weather on the announcements, junior high students have developed a community shelter with supplies for weather emergencies, and high school math students prepare and present complex statistical analysis with the data. The data has been used as inspiration in weather-related art projects and is used to plan the marching band season.
The interdisciplinary functionality of the project, paired with the asset it provides to community weather safety, makes Dongola’s Weatherbug project a success story.