A portable weather station to help pilots won Atherton High School students the Best Technical Project in Kentucky Award at the 2023 Kentucky Student Technology Leadership Program state championship. The STLP championship was held on April 19 at Central Bank Center in Lexington.
STLP is a statewide program that offers opportunities for students to participate in project-based learning, using technology to help solve issues in their communities.
The project by Atherton (Jefferson County) is called the Fabricated Light Weather Reporting Station (FLWRS). The device, which was 3D-printed, is a transportable weather station that measures wind speed, temperature and dew point, and also gathers additional weather information. After the data is collected, it is sent to a Bluetooth-connected iPad or smartphone to assist pilots in planning their trips.
Atherton junior Julianna Hayes said the device is designed for small airports or airstrips that do not have access to more expensive weather resources. It can easily be replicated.
Hayes’ teammate, Atherton senior Eisa Nasim, said people can “get the stuff from Hobby Lobby, follow our instructions, and boom you’re done!”
Nasim is a student pilot, and the idea for the team’s weather device was born out of his love for aviation.
“Flying is 10% flying and 90% planning, and this device will help the planning process,” he said.
The team intended the device to be used by pilots, but they also believe it can be useful for drone operators and even for events such as the Great Balloon Race in Louisville, a hot air balloon race that is part of the Kentucky Derby Festival.
“Kentucky is one of the best places that we could develop this project, because our weather is all over the place,” said senior Addi Lawson, another team member.
Sophomore Blake Cole worked on the device’s electronic elements.
“Blake is our MVP!” said Nasim.
Austin Wilburn, a sophomore, served as Atherton’s presenter at the STLP conference.
“I didn’t think we would win,” he said. “I was waiting for them to call us off stage, but they never did.”
Atherton’s STLP adviser Alan Williams said he was just as surprised by their victory, as it was the school’s first time bringing a team to the statewide STLP competition.
“I thought we would do well, but to win our first time competing was kind of a shock,” he said. “But when you’ve got great kids, great things happen.”
Atherton’s team will present their project at the International Society for Technology in Education conference in Philadelphia at the end of June.