Earth science is a part of the curriculum that is best taught with a hands-on approach. Students can learn about geology with a day trip to a local hiking trail, while oceanography is best taught with a field trip to the aquarium. Meteorology is no different, and students can learn a lot about our changing weather with simple homemade or store-bought weather stations.
Important meteorological concepts can be taught from the data collected by weather instruments. Kids can see in real time the relationship between humidity and rainfall, or how changes in wind direction seem to usher in changes in the weather itself. Particularly for those children interested in a future career in meteorology, early exposure to the core concepts of weather is ideal to nurture that interest.
While personal weather stations can be quite expensive, for educational use it is not always necessary to look for the best or most accurate station available. Instead, focus on durability and ease of use as more complicated stations might confuse younger users. Here are our recommendations.
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Educational Kids Weather Station Projects
For youngsters, durability is definitely an issue, so we recommend that you stay away from electronic personal weather stations. Instead, look for a model where you and your child can build it yourselves, or is made of few parts and easy to install. Inventors of Tomorrow has a step by step process to make your own homemade weather station. There’s a list of materials necessary on the site itself, including making a chart to record weather readings. Each day the child can take his measurements, and over time they’ll start to see weather patterns from their records.
Our Pick for Younger Kids: 4M Weather Station Kit
Another option is 4M’s Weather Station Kit. This educational kit contains a set of basic weather instruments for your child to learn about the weather around the home. The package includes a fully functional wind vane, an anemometer, a thermometer and rain gauge. This science kit is a great product to introduce your kids to meteorology.
Weather Stations for Older Children
Our above recommendations are more suited for preschoolers and elementary/primary school aged children, so we’d recommend a more feature-rich weather station for older children and teens. Here, a moderately priced electronic personal weather station is a great pick.
Older children will find the connectivity features exciting, like the capability to download weather data from their weather station to their personal computer through software options or post it online to Weather Underground. If your child is taking more than a passing interest in weather, you might want to consider a more professional grade model.
Our Pick for Older Children: AcuRite 01024 PRO 5-in-1 With HD Display
The AcuRite PRO+ Weather Station is one of our favorites among value weather stations for weather enthusiasts (see the full list of home weather station reviews), and its low price makes it a great option for older children. It measures temperature, wind speed and direction, rainfall and barometric pressure, and has a companion app so your child can monitor the weather even when he or she isn’t home. It’s easy to set up and can grow with your child with a host of additional sensors that can be added on later.
Weather Stations for Aspiring Meteorologists
If your child is seriously considering a career in meteorology, we’d recommend passing on the AccuRite Pro. Your child at this point probably realizes the value of accuracy in weather observations, so you’ll need a station that is still of good value but whose accuracy is top notch. There’s one station that fits this bill nicely.
Our Pick for Future Meteorologists: Davis Instruments 6250 Vantage Vue
No weather station manufacturer consistently ranks near the top when it comes to durability, reliability, and value like Davis Instruments does. In addition to its features, the Weatherlink live hub gives Davis instruments a way to stream live weather data. While their stations are priced at a premium to their competitors, this station stands a very good chance of providing years of enjoyment for your child, even into young adulthood with proper care. While temperature readings outside sometimes are a bit high in direct sunlight (the higher end Vantage Pro2 does not have this problem), it’s worth every penny in our opinion.
Weather Stations for Schools
If you’re in the market for a weather station to install at your school, we’d recommend spending the extra money on a high-end station with a good track record of reliability and durability. School budgets are tight, and it’s likely once the station is set up it won’t be replaced for some time. There is one station in particular that we like, and would recommend as it is best-in-class when it comes to personal weather stations.
Our Pick for Schools: Davis Instruments Vantage Pro2
The Vantage Pro2 has one of the best track records when it comes to reliability and durability. These stations continually provide more than five years of trouble free service with only simple regular maintenance. If you cannot set up the wireless version, a cabled model is also available. The Vantage Pro2 also allows for expandability through the addition of sensors for UV, solar radiation, and soil moisture—making it useful outside of the meteorology curriculum.