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JIS introduces weather station

Jemison Intermediate School continued its expansion of opportunities to educate outdoors with the introduction of a weather station during a presentation on Jan. 28.

“It’s going to be important for our next generation of innovators,” JIS Vice Principal Jackie DeJarnett said.

According to STEM teacher Rachel Mims, a digital weather station will be mounted on top of the structure.

“That will transmit weather data to a screen that they [students] can look at everyday and interpret,” Mims said. “We will also have analog on the ground, so that they won’t lose the skills of reading temperature, humidity and things like that.”

The weather station is just the latest in JIS’s push to fully-utilize its outdoor space for education purposes.

It will join the Outdoor Classroom and nature trail that continue to be developed further on the backside of the school.

“It’s just another tool in the toolbox to increase their [students] interest in science, technology, engineering and math,” CCS Superintendent Jason Griffin said. “It’s not all about test scores, if they’re not learning. This is a good way to encourage free play and learning at the same time.”

The importance of hands-on education in conjunction with what is taught in the classroom continues to be a driving point at JIS.

“They have it in class, but they don’t often get to actually apply it,” Mims said. “If they can’t apply what they’re learning, they’re going to forget.”

Mims received a grant a couple of years ago to purchase the digital aspects of the station.

“We’ve been holding on to that, and I’ve been writing grants for the actual building,” Mims said. “We finally got up enough money through donations.”

The weather station’s pergola structure, which consists of four vertical posts supporting crossbeams across the top, has been constructed in front of the school.

She plans to have the digital components up and running by the end of next week.

“We have everything, so now it’s just the work of getting it out there,” Mims said.

At the moment, each JIS student participates in the STEM program every other week. The weeks that they are not, they are taking technology classes.

“We’re ahead of the curve,” DeJarnett said.

Chilton County Schools officials and community leaders were on hand for a meeting and first-hand look of the weather station.

According to Griffin, the facility will be available for all county schools to schedule and use.

“We’re going to utilize it and use all of our resources for all of our students,” Griffin said. “Why would we take a field trip out of our county, when we’ve got something here.”

JIS Principal D.J. Nix and other school personnel visited the greenhouse and pavilion at Thorsby High School for ideas of how they could model after it.

The construction of a greenhouse was mentioned as the next step in the JIS plan. However, future grants will be needed before any serious movement is made on the venture.

“My motto has always been ‘students first,’” Nix said. “I’m all about educating young minds, and everybody is somebody.”

State Rep. Van Smith was on hand listening to the discussion to see how he may be able to provide future funding assistance at the state level.