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Byron Center West Middle School gets Weather Lesson from Teri DeBoer

Byron Center West Middle School students learned the answers to some interesting questions about weather phenomena from meteorologist Terri DeBoer recently. “Who knows why we hear thunder?” she asked students. She equated the sound to opening a pop can, explaining how the heat from the lightning makes the air expand inside a cloud, which creates a noise.

The well-known Wood TV8 broadcaster illustrated with a lightning ball how items work as conductors and brought a mini-tornado to life inside a machine. Science teacher Justin VandePol incorporated DeBoer’s visit into a weather unit for which students will complete projects on severe weather.

She told students that weather is fascinating but can be very dangerous, even with modern technology providing warnings. “If we are out in a thunderstorm, we are really good conductors of energy,” she said.Teri DeBoer brought a lightning ball similar to this, that she used to demonstrate how objects conduct electricity

Seventh-grader Emma Newhouse proved the theory by touching the lightning ball, attracting the current toward her finger.

Students wondered how often tornadoes happen in West Michigan, and DeBoer said though only 8 of 10 spottings are verified, it is important to always take cover. “There is a pretty strong chance that in the next couple years, we could end up with an F4 or F5 tornado in West Michigan,” she said. “We are way overdue.”

DeBoer, the first certified female meteorologist in Michigan, encouraged girls to pursue careers in science and math. She said things have come a long way since she was certified in 1995, with more and more women becoming meteorologists all the time.

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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