Look to the skies!

Local Scout helps Francis Elementary kids become young meteorologists

by Sarah Gilbert

Liam Anderson installs a bird feeder at the weather station he designed and built at Francis Elementary, a south Charlotte charter school. The school’s students will use the outdoor classroom to study weather and ecology. (Photo courtesy of Peggy Anderson)

SOUTHPARK – They aren’t exactly on TV yet, but the students of Francis Elementary are well on their way to becoming weather boys and girls thanks to soon-to-be Eagle Scout Liam Anderson.

Liam, a longtime Scout with Troop 288 at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in SouthPark, built an outdoor classroom at the local elementary school to earn his Eagle Scout award. The Charlotte Catholic High School junior designed and built a weather station and outdoor facility equipped with instruments students will use to study climate and ecology.

Francis Elementary is a young program at Elon Homes for Children, the south Charlotte campus that also houses Kennedy Public Charter School.  Both schools serve students who come predominantly from economically disadvantaged homes.

SOUTHPARK – Liam Anderson, a junior at Charlotte Catholic High School and Boy Scout with Troop 288, assembles a hummingbird feeder with help from students at Francis Elementary School. Liam designed and built an outdoor weather station at the south Charlotte school, a project he hopes will earn him his Eagle Scout Award. He visited the school Dec. 16 to introduce students to the facility, which includes thermometers, rain gauges and other equipment. (Photo courtesy of Peggy Anderson)

“Francis Elementary is located very close to my home and to the church my troop operates out of, and it’s a very worthy cause,” Liam said.  “It used to be an orphanage, and now it’s a school that serves primarily at-risk students.  They’re adding grades and expanding, so I was glad to have the chance to help kids in my own neighborhood.”

The project is equipped with thermometers, rain gauges, a barometer and windsock students will use to monitor their school’s environment and weather patterns.  Troop members also helped install a rain barrel, compost pile, birdbath, eight birdhouses and seven bird feeders.

“I got some really, really great support from my troop,” Liam said.  “We had a day for assembling the pieces and another day for installing them at the school, and it was really nice to see my troop come out and help.  I also was able to get help from people at my school.”

The team helped beautify the school’s campus by installing plants and painting the railing that surrounds the weather station’s patio.

Liam visited the school Dec. 16 to introduce the students to the facility and put the finishing touches on the project, including having students help read the instruments and install a final bird feeder.

“I had the opportunity to make a presentation to the second- and third-graders at the school, and it was a very nice experience to get to spend time with the kids who will actually use the project and benefit from it,” Liam said.  “They were very excited, especially when we went outside.”

Liam spent much of the summer drafting a proposal outlining every detail of the project and submitting it to the Boy Scouts organization for approval.  He and his troop members began building the equipment in October, and installation started in November.

“I’m very happy with the finished project,” Liam said.  “It’s very educational and the students will be able to learn science skills in a fun, outdoor environment.  My initial goal was to get the kids outside, and this accomplishes that.”

Liam’s troop, Boy Scout Troop 288, is affiliated with south Charlotte’s St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, located at 6828 Old Reid Road.  He has been a member of the troop for six years and a Scout since the first grade. He hopes to attain the rank of Eagle next month. It’s the highest rank a Scout can reach.

“If there’s one thing that every kid gets out of Scouts, it’s leadership skills,” Liam said. “That’s what I’ve spent the bulk of my time developing, and it’s so important in every part of your life.”

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