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Meteorologist visits Ahfachkee for science lesson

By Naji Tobias 

BIG CYPRESS — Ahfachkee School’s fifth-grade students floated on cloud nine during a special meteorology presentation hosted by the Big Cypress Library on Feb. 29.

How The Weather Works meteorologist Mike Mogil showed the Tribal school’s science students how clouds form on his visit to the Frank Billie Tribal Field Office’s Learning Resource Center.

“We wanted them to gain a greater appreciation for what’s going on in the sky,” Mogil said.

With the help of How The Weather Works educational services director Barbara G. Levine, Mogil used several props to give the students an idea of how things like the water cycle and the rain come into play.

In one demonstration, Mogil captured mock water raindrops as he sprayed water into the air and it fell into a corn starch tray.

“What happened then is that the corn starch, which was in the tray, encircled the rain drops as we were capturing them,” Mogil said.

The combination created corn starch balls, representing precipitation.

Mogil also did an experiment with a wind machine. He suspended ping pong balls in the air by generating an updraft of wind with a hair dryer. The ping pong balls represented rain drops.

The Ahfachkee students also observed water droplets at eye level on wax paper.

“We had the students do that because some of the students thought the rain drops looked like circles,” Mogil said. “The rain drops are actually three-dimensional, not just two-dimensional circles.”

The final experiment of the day was a stratus cloud demonstration using a soda bottle with water droplets in it. By squeezing and releasing the bottle, Mogil changed the pressure inside the bottle.

“The pressure change simulated the temperature change that happens in the atmosphere,” Mogil said. “So we were able to evaporate a cloud and then have it reappear again simply by squeezing and releasing the bottle.”

As a parting gift, participants received rain drop bags, which contained several corn starch “rain drop” balls formed during the experiment.

“If the rain drop balls are not squeezed, pressed or crushed, they can last forever,” Mogil said.

He said the Ahfachkee students showed great participation during the demonstration.

“The kids saw things they hadn’t thought about before the experiment,” he said. “They asked a lot of questions about how it all works with the weather. It really piqued their interest.”
Ahfachkee fifth-grade student Mya Cypress agreed.

“The rain drop experiment was a lot of fun,” Cypress said. “We learned that rain drops aren’t like tear drops. It was cool to see.”

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