Weather camp attendees putting together a miniature hot air balloon

Here, weather is more than a conversation starter

The quietest kid at the Southwest Florida Weather Camp beamed as his miniature hot air balloon rose above the other balloons launched by his fellow campers.

“His balloon went up the highest and went farther than anyone else’s,” said Tish Roland, 4-H agent at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Collier County. “Everyone was running over to him asking him how he did it.”

Over the last two years, Roland has organized the Southwest Florida Weather Camp with the help of Mike Mogil, director of the National Weather Camp Program and experienced meteorologist. “Mike has worked with kids all over the country, but he is from Naples and wanted to have Weather Camp in his own community,” Roland said.

This year’s Weather Camp is set for July 11 through July 15, and goes from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day. Activities will take place at the UF/IFAS Extension Collier County office in Naples, Florida. The registration fee includes lunch and snacks. Go to http://bit.ly/29nJk00 to register.

“The camp is a foundational class that gives youth a basic understanding of how weather works,” Roland explained. “Mike teaches them terminology, takes them through hands-on learning of how weather happens, and then goes outside with them to discuss the weather that day.”

On the last day of the camp, attendees construct miniature hot air balloons out of colorful piece of tissue paper. For many kids, this is the highlight of the week, Roland said. “Even though they’ve learned that hot air rises, I think they doubt it until they see it happen,” she said.

Because the activities are so interactive, the kids don’t realize that they are working on their sciences and math skills, Roland added. “Weather is a topic that people discuss, but not all understand,” she said. “The kids will find out that not all people know what makes weather work, and that they have knowledge that others don’t have. This should give them confidence when they explore other scientific topics.”

By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Source: Tish Roland, 239-252-4800, troland@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS photo by Tish Roland