Curbell Plastics, Inc. Contributes to “Weather Machine” Teaching Tool
Andy Parker with the Weather Machine

urbell Plastics, Inc. helped Western New York Meteorologist Andy Parker with his Weather Machine, a popular invention and hands-on way to teach students about weather. “The Weather Machine demonstrations are meant to inspire the scientist and inventor in each student,” said Parker, with the purpose of getting the next generation interested in weather and science.

The Weather Machine is built using a large polycarbonate sheet, donated by Curbell Plastics, Inc. It is bent and fit into a frame, creating a clear tube. Inside that tube, weather simulations can be created, such as tornadoes, lightning and snowstorms. Students can reach in and touch a tornado, for example, to feel the air and the vortex, without fear. Parker designed the Weather Machine for children in grades K-6, but it creates a sense of wonder and awe at any age.

Parker began this project by creating smaller scale “desktop” sized weather experiments for single classroom presentations. They were so popular with students and teachers that he started working on a much larger version that could be used to engage hundreds of students in an auditorium.

Among the requirements, the larger scale Weather Machine had to be:

  • Clear from all angles, with no obstructed views
  • Lightweight, so it could be moved quickly and easily for set up and take down
  • Durable enough to last for numerous presentations

Having to take time off during COVID gave Parker a chance to re-engineer the Weather Machine and think about how he could improve it. Version 2.0 of the Weather Machine is created using a thinner sheet of polycarbonate, making it lighter in weight with greater optical clarity. Curbell worked with Parker to select a polycarbonate sheet that would still perform under the conditions it was exposed to yet would be easier to bend for the curved machine wall shape.