Collaboration Station

When you next visit the Newsome Pollinator Garden at Welty, you may notice a cute, white box near the flagpoles. It isn’t a bird, bat, or flying squirrel shelter. Inside it is a digital thermometer taking air and soil temperatures in six-day increments. 

It’s not all just for fun, but it is part of a collaborative effort to incorporate hands-on scientific methods into our work with WELCOME (Wisconsin Educational Leadership for Community Outreach and Mentoring for the Environment) program of GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment). 

This won’t only be done at the Welty Center either! Our* goal for the next three years is to install an instrument shelter like this at schools in the School District of Beloit, where age-appropriate protocols can be implemented in the classroom.

1: Our instrument shelter has an informative sign, answering some FAQs about GLOBE and the WELCOME program. 2: The digital thermometer that resides in the instrument shelter monitors current air and soil temperatures for six days. Here, the thermometer is reporting a minimum air temperature of -5.9°C (21°F) on Day 6 (12/9/2021) and a current soil temperature (12/15/2021) of 9.4°C (49°F). 3: We placed the instrument shelter far from structures that could potentially impede the thermometer readings. Welty staff will be checking the shelter weekly to keep temperature data up to date.

Students here in Beloit can compare their daily air and soil temperatures…

Possibilities are endless as there are five spheres in which teachers can explore with their students: atmosphere (air), biosphere (living things), hydrosphere (water), pedosphere (soil), and Earth as a system. With this instrument shelter alone, students can explore:

  • How to calibrate and handle science technology in the field
  • Investigate the importance of soil temperature
  • Discover why there are differences in air temperature at different times of the day
  • Establish relationships between air and soil temperature
  • Calculate weekly mean temperatures
    • Convert temperatures between fahrenheit and celsius

to what students are observing in other countries around the world!

A mind-boggling part about this program is the global part of GLOBE. Students here in Beloit, Wisconsin, USA, can compare their daily air and soil temperatures (and any other components they study using GLOBE protocols) to what students are observing in countries such as Mexico, Ethiopia, Thailand, and New Zealand! 

If you are interested in viewing the data that is collected by our Newsome Pollinator Garden instrument shelter, check it out! Our spreadsheet will be updated every week. GLOBE data is also open source, so their database is accessible to anyone interested as well!

* Partners in WELCOME are: Welty, School District of Beloit, University of Wisconsin-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies Center for Climatic Research, Beloit College, and Achieving Collaborative Treatment.

Darien Becker
Environmental Educator, WEC