Doppler radar is based on the Doppler effect, which is a "shift" in the frequency of a wave when the source is in motion. With Doppler radar, a microwave pulse is transmitted. Motion from wind and weather causes the microwave pulse to echo back at a different frequency. By using computers to analyze the echo, we can calculate the type, intensity, speed, and direction of the weather. This is used heavily in storm tracking.

Explaining the Doppler effect with words can be a little tricky. Here is a link to a video where you can hear the Doppler effect when a firetruck passes by. As the truck passes the camera, you can hear the "shift" in the frequency of the sound.

Why are weather stations inventions that changed the world? As technology advances, we get better and better at predicting what the weather will be. One of the most significant benefits is the detection and early warning of impending severe storms. We can't stop the weather, but if we know what we're in store for, we can be ready for it—come rain or shine!

Do You Want to be a Meteorologist?

If you are really interested in the study of weather, you can become a student member of the American Meteorological Society. The cost is $15 per year and includes a subscription to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS). BAMS is a fairly technical publication better suited for college students and professionals. For an additional $45 per year, you can receive a subscription to Weatherwise, which is a magazine oriented toward elementary, middle, and high school students. The society's Web site is

Mississippi State University offers distance learning programs in Broadcast and Operational Meteorology. If you think meteorology is a career you would like to explore as a profession, check out their distance learning Web site at geosciences/OMP/index.html. 

Ray and Gale Lawson have been homeschooling their three children since 1995. Ray holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from the Virginia Military Institute and works for Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, LLC. Gale holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of South Carolina and is a full-time mom and teacher. They are members of Breezy Hill Baptist Church in Graniteville, SC. Questions, comments, and suggestions are always welcomed and can be e-mailed to them at (Ray) or (Gale). 

Originally published in Home School Enrichment Magazine. Now, get a FREE subscription to HSE Digital by visiting Every issue is packed with homeschool encouragement, help, and information. Get immediate access to the current issue when you start your FREE subscription today!