AYER -- "I love snow. Does anybody here like snow?" asked WBZ meteorologist Barry Burbank.
Hands and a resounding "yes!" shot up through the crowd of students at Page Hilltop Elementary School.
The tension in the auditorium was nearly tangible on Wednesday, the day before a forecasted snowstorm. More than 100 fourth- and fifth-graders fidgeted in their seats, waiting for the answer to the big question -- will school be closed tomorrow?
But Burbank, who visited the school to talk about weather, began with solid life advice. He recalled the day his local weatherman forecasted 12 inches of snow. Burbank was in fourth-grade himself, and assumed there would be no school the next day.
"I remember my mom saying to me, 'do you have any homework tonight?'" he said. "I said 'I do,' and I told her 'I'm not doing it.'"
He does not even remember having brea kfast the next morning, when he was scrambling to do his homework.
"I t's all my fault for not doing my homework, so always do your homework," he said. "If you have homework tonight, you better do it."
Still, the first question a student asked was whether there would be a snow day. The answer, Burbank said, is not always clear.
"If the forecast is for six to 12 inches like it is for this area, what happens when you get six to 12 inches of snowing during the day is it's bad driving during the afternoon to get out of school," he said.
Loud applause broke out.
Beyond snow, Burbank also spoke to students about his job, tornadoes, precipitation and the complexity of the weather.
"Our job as a weather forecaster is to try to figure out how the temperature is going to be changing," he said. "But all these changes are going on over our heads."
Students watched an informational video on the WBZ weather team and the equipment they use to determine the forecast, including "spaghetti" charts that can help determine the oncoming weather. Another video showed a tornado in Kansas, part of "tornado alley."
Burbank explained how equipment helps the weather team with tornado warnings.
"The radars that we have now have become more sophisticated so that they can detect rotation and circulation in the atmosphere," he said. "The trick is determining if the spin in the atmosphere is going to work its way all the way down to the ground -- when it touches the ground, that's when it's officially a tornado."
The talk coincided with the science curriculum, said fifth-grade science and math teacher Nancy Pasquaretta, who requested the visit from WBZ.
"We were talking about different types of equipment or technology that the forecasters use, so I got the class involved in that and they've been watching it," she said.
Pasquaretta said the students were excited for the presentation.
"We've been really talking it up because we've been talking about weather and what the meteorologists do, and of course, here it is the day before a big storm," she said. "There couldn't be better timing for him to come out."
Fifth-grader Olivia Oestreicher said she really wants to be a meteorologist when she grows up. Her favorite part of the talk was the tornadoes.
"It's cool to see how bad just a little thing can get," she said.
Fourth-grader Hana Hussain said, "At home I watch the weather channel," she said. "I really like seeing how the weather can change."
But unlike Burbank, students who ignored their homework Tuesday night gambled with winning results -- a steady downpour of snow and no school the next day.
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