New NWS Charleston office includes Science on a Sphere display

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Updated weather forecasts aren’t the only thing to come out of the new National Weather Service facility in Kanawha County. Students can get an education, too.

The NWS recently opened a new office at the West Virginia Regional Technology Park. The building includes a space where young people can learn about Earth science.

Science on a Sphere, a room-sized global display, projects visualizations of planetary data onto a six-foot sphere to help illustrate different aspects of the Earth system.

“There’s over 600 data sets so educators can really tailor their curriculum or their lesson because there’s just an unlimited amount of data that can be shown here,” said Jordan Ferrell, director of communications and park programs at the Tech Park, during a tour of the building last week.

Ferrell said the goal is to bring middle and high school students to tour the site and promote STEM education. They’ll also host community groups, home school children, higher institution classes and others.

The Tech Park is partnering with BridgeValley Community and Technical College to bring those kids to the campus in South Charleston.

Ferrell said the Earth display looks real.

“The actual sphere and it coming to life in a globe shape of Earth or other planets is really cool and to be able to visualize that in the middle of a room and have it look real, especially for elementary school kids,” she said.

Some of the settings include paths of turtle migrations, data on human impact to the Earth and the environment, data on planets and Mars landing locations, as well as the Moon phases.

Science On a Sphere is a program within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) supported by the U.S. Department of Education in partnership with the Global Systems Laboratory.

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