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Jim Zietz | Senior Photographer | Office of Communications & University Relations  

Local “Weather Guy” Informs and Impresses Students

LSU Camp Challenge Students Learn From WAFB’s Caparotta

Steve Caparotta’s second grade physical education teacher asked him every day what the weather would be the next day. And every day, Steve could tell him whether P.E. would be inside or outside.

“I used to watch the Weather Channel instead of cartoons,” he told a group of students in the LSU Camp Challenge program.

Caparotta engaged the students with a presentation that was developed to educate adults about hurricanes. The 13 fourth and fifth graders in Candice Hartley’s one-week summer class were up to the challenge – one of the reasons they were there was to study extreme weather.

Growing up in New Orleans, Caparotta had an early fascination with hurricanes, which set him on the path to becoming a “weather guy.” He recently earned a master’s degree at LSU, and often speaks to elementary school classes with a slide show oriented to second-graders. He enjoyed presenting to this group of young scientists at LSU, many of whom were toying with anemometers they had constructed in an earlier lesson on wind.

Caparotta gave a brief history of hurricanes in the state, and defined the differences between a tropical storm, minor hurricane and a major hurricane. He talked about the month when Louisiana usually gets the most hurricanes – September – the number of hurricanes that have made landfall in the U.S. in each decade since 1900 and used numbers, charts and graphs to describe and explain storm intensity, wind speed and barometric pressure.

“To become a meteorologist, you have to take a lot of science classes…and math is real important,” he pointed out.

When his slide show was over, Caparotta was peppered with questions by the students, who were not intimidated by the high-level presentation.

Do hurricanes start in the waters around Africa because the water is warmer? Which side of the hurricane is worst? Can a hurricane hit a state twice in a row? How fast can the wind in a hurricane get? These were just a few examples of the questions with which Caparotta was peppered. 

The final question of the class was posed by the teacher, Ms. Hartley: “How will the weather be for our rocket launch Friday?”

“Hot and dry,” said the weather guy. The class cheered.

Billy Gomilla | Writer | Office of Communications & University Relations
June 2009