Thursday, May 27, 2021
For Immediate Release
Watching the Weather with
Kite Enthusiast and Educator Don McCasland
Quincy & Milton, MA – “Kites are my passion!” says Don McCasland, Program Director at Blue Hill Observatory & Science Center, “They are a great way to teach about a lot of weather and atmosphere topics!” Don has been fascinated with kites since high school and continues to be amazed at how effective they are as simple tools that help us investigate forces affecting the weather. Don shares his passion for kite flying, weather observation, and long-term meteorological data collection through programs such as Women in Natural Science (WINS) that empower students to pursue science as well as through professional development workshops for educators. A long-time partner of the Wade Institute for Science Education, Don is excited for the opportunity to engage educators in weather observation during our collaborative 2021 Summer Professional Development Institute, Seasons and Cycles: How Weather Affects Us and How We Affect the Weather.
Don McCasland shows of weather data collection equipment at Blue Hill Observatory & Science Center
Don is a former kite store owner and substitute teacher who brought his knowledge of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) education to the Blue Hill Observatory & Science Center in the late 1990s and took on the role of Program Director in 2000. He designs and leads educational programming, manages the gift shop, and coordinates volunteers and interns. He is currently working with interns to complete scientific posters about solar impact and cloud formations that can be used to communicate weather science content with a wide audience. Don is looking forward to using these new resources for the first time with educators during the institute.
Don is an avid learner who has both taught and participated in the Wade Institute’s inquiry-based, hands-on, minds-on STEM professional development programs. He notes that his experiences have reinforced his learning about many different sciences and enhanced his skills in using up-to-date pedagogy. He enjoys attending Summer Professional Development Institutes (when he is not teaching) to gain a better understanding of how the topics presented are interconnected. Don is excited to learn more about topics and new techniques relevant to today’s teaching practice from the Wade Institute, about seasons and cycles influenced by the Earth’s tilt and rotation from the EcoTarium, and about citizen science apps used for weather data collection and analysis from GLOBE Program Mission Earth at Boston University. “Through the whole week, we will all be reinforcing each other’s lessons,” he says. “It’s all interconnected. If we can communicate that to the teachers, they can communicate that to the students.”
Don shares data from the Campbell Stokes Sunshine Recorder with educators during a Summer Professional Development Institute.
Since educators design their own inquiry-based lessons during the institute, Don looks forward to feedback about their practical applications of kite flying for weather observation with students. He is also eager to show off the resources of the nation’s oldest continuously-operating meteorological observatory, which is a working research station that uses its real-time data to inform the National Weather Service, broadcast meteorologists, and global climate scientists, and for designing educational activities that spark science learning. “Students are automatically engaged because of the nature of the site,” says Don. He hopes to have the opportunity to bring educators together for a post-institute field session during the 2021-2022 academic year and to show them the ways in which they can use Blue Hill Observatory & Science Center and its homogenous long-term weather data (dating back to 1885) to teach students in person or remotely.
Don’s love of kite flying for weather observation reveals his overall attitude that our world is a wondrous place and even the simplest tools can enable us to explore fascinating forces and phenomena. When he looks to the skies for answers, he sees sunshine and some clouds and records his observations for future use. He is anticipating that the weather might be slightly different on windy Blue Hill than the surrounding area this summer and is happy for the chance to help educators explore the reasons why this phenomena occurs. Through a week of inquiry-based investigations and learning from the Wade Institute and its partners, Don knows he will gain insight into the interconnectedness of Earth’s seasons, cycles, and weather systems to enhance his existing knowledge of our planet’s forces and phenomena, and he hopes to inspire educators with a sense of awe that comes from investigating our atmosphere.
Don leads educators in a kite flying activity to investigate atmospheric phenomena that affect the weather.
For more information about our 2021 Summer Professional Development Institute, Seasons and Cycles: How Weather Affects Us and How We Affect the Weather, in partnership with Blue Hill Observatory & Science Center, the EcoTarium, and the GLOBE Program Mission Earth at Boston University, visit www.wadeinstitutema.org/spdi-k12.
The Wade Institute for Science Education specializes in providing inquiry-based, hands-on, minds-on, science, technology and engineering professional development for K-12 teachers and informal educators. For more information, visit www.wadeinstitutema.org or call 617-328-1515.