Student Features

An Interview with Dymond Grayson, TeVon McClary and ShaTira Waller
picture of Dymond Grayson, Tevon McClary and ShaTira Waller collecting aerosol data
Dymond Grayson, TeVon McClary and ShaTira Waller (From Left to Right) Collect Aerosol Data Using a Sun Photometer
Dymond Grayson, TeVon McClary and ShaTira Waller are doing important science work. They're fifth graders at the Cooper Elementary Magnet School for Technology in Hampton, Va. Their teacher is Shirley Sypolt. She's having them collect data on aerosols. Aerosols are tiny particles in the atmosphere. Like dust and smoke. The students collect the data using an instrument called a sun photometer. Then they enter the data into the GLOBE Web site. GLOBE is a network of students that take measurements of air, land, water and living things. Their measurements will be used by NASA scientists to make sure CALIPSO is working right. CALIPSO is a satellite that will measure aerosols.

Earth Explorers: Why do you like science?

Dymond: I like science because it's fun and educational. I like learning new things.
ShaTira: I like science because we get to do lots of fun experiments and interesting science projects.
TeVon: I like science because we get to do projects. I like learning about how things work.

Earth Explorers: What's your favorite part of the project you're working on?

Dymond: I like helping to collect the aerosol data and I like getting to hold the clipboard. I like holding the sun photometer and trying to line up the Sun with the blue dot [on the instrument]. It's actually very easy.
ShaTira: I really like being a part of the CALIPSO project. Because we get to learn how to use a sun photometer to help other scientists.
TeVon: My favorite part of this project is being able to help other scientists learn about the Earth. I enjoyed learning about aerosols.

Earth Explorers: What have you learned from doing this project?

Dymond: One thing that I learned is that it's a lot easier to collect data while working in a group. We each have a different job to do. I learned a lot just by talking to the other students about what aerosols are.
ShaTira: One thing I learned was to be patient. Collecting data involved some waiting time while we were taking data. I learned a lot about what aerosols are. Before this project, I didn't know that aerosols were everything that is suspended in the atmosphere, including dust, water, smoke and volcanic ash.
TeVon: I've learned how to use a sun photometer to take red- and green-light readings. It's really easy. I also learned that it's a whole lot easier to collect science data when working in a group.

Earth Explorers: Besides science, what subjects in school help you the most with your project?

Dymond: Math and social studies. We need to be able to tell time, select the largest number from a series, and be able to figure averages for our data.
ShaTira: Math really helps because we have to be able to read and reset a stopwatch, read numbers on a digital read-out, and record the largest number in a given period of time. And we need to be able to find averages for our red-light and green-light data.
TeVon: Math really helps because we need to be able to read temperature and numbers on the digital read-out on the sun photometer. And we also need to find the averages for our collected data.

Earth Explorers: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Dymond: I would like to be a doctor for kids and adults.
ShaTira: I would like to be a veterinarian, a scientist or a teacher.
TeVon: I would like to be a famous basketball player.

Earth Explorers: What are your hobbies?

Dymond: I like to dance, sing, read and go to the mall.
ShaTira: I like to read and write.
TeVon: I like to play sports, and I like to save my allowance.

Dan Stillman, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies