Thursday, January 23, 2014


We just finished learning about weather in science, and my friend scored an opportunity to go on a field trip to meet a weatherman.  We had no idea what to expect when we arrived downtown.  We thought we would see some kind of a weather room with lots of satellite maps and Doppler Radars, with meteorologists running around making predictions.  :-)

Instead, we were ushered into the newsroom and offered a seat on the cozy little couches where they conduct on air interviews.  Seconds later, "On Air" lights were flashing and we were watching the 5:00 news being done live!  It was completely unexpected and totally fascinating!  One of the more curious parts was watching the weatherman point to the green screen.  We wondered how in the world he knew where to point, but he showed us the hidden monitors where he could see the maps.  The kids got to try it too.

They stood in front of the green screen, but of course, on the monitors they had the weather behind them.  Except Hayden was wearing a green shirt.  Hahaha.  So he was "wearing" the weather and looked like a floating head!  That was pretty funny.  (A new fashion trend, perhaps?)

So we made him zip up his jacket.  :-)

I was intrigued by how many things happen simultaneously in a newsroom, and I was completely stunned by how welcoming and informative everyone was toward us.  It appears they don't have visitors too often, and never homeschoolers before!  

The producers showed the kids how they schedule sections and explained the crucial timing behind each segment of news.  There is constant communication with the production staff upstairs, so as the anchors are speaking they are also constantly listening to directions in their ear pieces.  There were seven cameras in action, and the weatherman and anchors move around a lot to "set" different takes.

They have to know where to look when, and the camera guy has to be dead on track to give them the correct prompter at the correct angle.  There was a short gap between the 5:00 and 6:00 news, and the anchorman showed a particular interest in the kids.  Turns out, he works with teens running a state wide civics competition, and he is a real advocate for homeschooling.  He initiated lots of conversation with us and was exceedingly encouraging to the kids.  We got to ask him all kinds of questions about what he does and he was funny and passionate in his responses.  A total blessing!

The weatherman that we originally went to see was also out-stand-ing.  

(Such a small world....he grew up and played baseball in the same TINY town in Tennessee where Hannah goes to school.  That was a crazy connection.  Then he played professional ball in the town where I lived as a child.)  

He is BUSY during the news, but he constantly circled around to us, giving updates and information about what was happening and how it was being done.  We learned SO MUCH.  The only complaint I had was his forecast....the weather here is supposed to be absolutely miserable today!  Ha!!!!  (Had to razz him about that.)  He has a fourteen year old and a sixteen year old, so he was the perfect fit for our crowd.

He would just be talking away to us and all the sudden need to look right to shoot a little live "blip".  

"Cold front moving in!  I'll tell you all about it at 6:00!!"

We were so pumped when we left there.  It was a TOTAL blast, and the kids were made to feel incredibly special.  Confession..............they were NOT all that excited about driving downtown to see a weather room full of doppler radar.  ;-)  And they were even less enthused when my friend and I forced them to come up with a bunch of weather questions to ask.

"Why do cold fronts move faster than warm fronts?"
"Since cold air masses produce severe weather, how to you track those?"

My personal favorite....

"How much of weather prediction is scientific data and how much is educated guessing?"

(My diplomatic way of wondering why the weatherman is always wrong!)

NO WORRIES.  Instead they got to ask REAL questions with GENUINE interest, like "How do you read a teleprompter?  How much ad lib do you do?  What happens if you goof up on air?"

Oh it was fun.  Super fun.  I may need to give up my day job and go work in a newsroom.  Or not.  The first thing Julia did when we left the studio was grab my arm and say, "THANK GOODNESS YOUR MOM IS WATCHING EMMA!!!  Can you imagine trying to keep her quiet and BEHIND the cameras???"

We all had a great laugh over that one.  Yes, the local news is very adept at reporting breaking stories, but they may not be quite ready for Emma just yet!  :-)

My friend has set a pretty high bar.  I'm not sure how we'll plan another science related field trip to beat this one!  Thank you to our new friends at WFAA!!


Michelle said...

Oh, how FUN! what a wonderful experience! LOL about making him zip up his jacket! :) They look like they had a lot of fun.

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