Port, schools and Rotary partner on new weather station

  • Sue Waldburger<br>Enterprise writer
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 6:45am

The weather center the Port of Edmonds plans to build on the waterfront not only will be an educational experience for those who use it, but also for those who create it.

The Port has linked arms with the Edmonds School District’s Homeschool Resource Center (HRC) to plan, create and run a multi-function weather center on the section of boardwalk across from the marina office and slightly north of the Anthony’s restaurants. It’s a result of the district’s and Port’s partnership in developing interest in and educational experiences related to maritime careers in Puget Sound, explained Chris Keuss, Port director.

Planting the seed for the project was the Rotary Club of Edmonds, according to Keuss. Members approached the Port about eight years ago with the offer of $5,000 in seed money for a project to honor the memory of the late Harold “Babe” Bucklin, a Rotarian who once served as a Port commissioner. The idea was shelved for a few years, but a change in Port directors and renewed enthusiasm among Rotarians brought it to the forefront. Once the Port commissioners gave their blessing and allocated $7,000 for the project – which grew in scope from a station to a center – it moved forward.

Among the features planned for the weather center is a computer set-up through which weather data such as wind velocity will be collected from sensors atop the Anthony’s building and wirelessly transmitted to a monitor in the weather center. Visiting boaters and the general public can access the information around the clock with a push of a button, Keuss explained.

Another monitor will be used to show weather-related video productions homeschoolers will create in their science, audio-visual and computer classes at the HRC. How a convergence zone and tides work are possible topics.

Video presentations will be changed twice yearly, according to Todd Christensen, principal of the HRC, for more variety and greater educational experiences for homeschoolers.

A third monitor will be reserved for data the Port considers particularly important. Keuss said weather-center visitors might be able to access Google Earth and check out a Port Townsend marina layout or gather information on the whereabouts and ferocity of hurricanes.

Another feature will be dioramas created by HRC students. These visual science lessons will allow students to integrate multiple curricula, a hallmark of the HRC.

Christensen also noted weather-center information will be accessible via links on the Port and HRC Web sites.

Christmas time is the targeted completion date for the center, which was designed by an architect and will be built in-house by Bob Yeager, Port maintenance manager. The weather-resistant, handicapped-accessible wooden structure will use Lexan screens and Plexiglas overhead for protection from vandalism and the elements. Fashioned in a “L” shape, the center will measure about 12 feet by 10 feet. The Port will pay for on-going maintenance, which Keuss figures to be minimal.

Christensen said he believes it will be “a real showpiece at the Port” and a “hands-on application of what we teach (at HRC).”

Chris Osterman, the Port’s information-technology administrator, will be involved with the computer side of the project. Melissa Jenkins, science teacher, and Ron Dalton, technology specialist, will lead efforts at the HRC.

Homeschoolers aren’t the only students who will have fun while learning about weather at the new waterfront center. “This will be very popular with the schools. They’ll want to bring kids down here to push the buttons,” observed Keuss. “Jeff Renner,” he added, referring to a Seattle television weatherman, “is gonna be very jealous of this project.”

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