SHERIDAN — The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality’s Mobile Ambient Air Monitoring Station has created new learning opportunities for Sheridan Junior High School science classes.
Ambient air monitoring project manager Daniel Sharon said the station was set up in the junior high school’s parking lot at the end of August and will collect data in the location for about a year.
The station is one of three deployed across the state; the other two stations are in Laramie and Casper.
The main purpose of the station is to collect baseline gaseous data, though it also collects other data such as barometric pressure, precipitation and particulate matter.
The data will be used to determine whether the location needs additional long-term monitoring.
SJHS seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher and Wyoming Teacher of the Year Ryan Fuhrman said the station came at an ideal time, as the school is working to implement new curriculum standards set by the Wyoming Department of Education.
“In seventh grade we are incorporating weather with our ecology unit,” Fuhrman said. “So the opportunity to have real time data for our school, we will be using that a lot, I think, when we get to the weather unit.”
All the station’s data can be viewed on a website, which is updated about every hour with an image update every 15 minutes.
Fuhrman said these updates will be useful in classes, and with the station right outside the school’s door, the data becomes more relevant and reliable.
“The fact that it’s high-quality data that (students) see, that they walk past, that is right here at the school, they can see how the weather out the window is being tracked,” Fuhrman said. “…It just makes the learning that much more powerful.”
While Fuhrman said he’s not sure what the lessons will look like because he doesn’t know specifics on the new standards yet, he said he does know that analyzing graphs is an important factor, and the mobile station generates a lot of them.
Data is no longer limited to temperature and humidity. Because of the mobile station, Fuhrman’s classes will be able to look at data on particulates, wind speed, solar radiation and more. Additionally, having the station so close allows students to go beyond the textbooks.
“The goal of the new standards is really to have kids not just learn science facts, but to think and act like a scientist,” Fuhrman said. “And so to have some real data be accessible, I think is going to give us a lot of opportunities.”
Fuhrman said he doesn’t know yet if or how he’ll utilize WDEQ personnel as teaching tools, but having them on site is an additional opportunity.
“As much as we can have our students working like scientists and talking to scientists, that’s what we’re striving for,” Fuhrman said. “So this is just one more resource to help us do that.”