WCTV Pinpoint Weather Team on the importance of STEAM

By: Brittany Bedi|WCTV Eyewitness News
November 8, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- November 8 marks national STEM/STEAM day. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. The purpose of the day is to encourage people to pursue STEAM activities and careers.

While the WCTV Pinpoint Weather Team is known for their weather skills, it all has to start somewhere. In honor of national STEAM day, the weather team decided to answer some questions about what makes STEAM important to them.

What made you interested in science? When did you become interested in STEM?

Mike McCall: I grew up as the "Space Age" was truly taking flight. Neil Armstrong walked on the moon when I was 4 years old. Astronauts were true heroes back then, and science was "super cool".

Rob Nucatola: I always liked discovering things... from when I was really little... especially figuring out how things worked. Science was the best way to discover how things worked.

Brittany Bedi: I was always interested in everything science since I learned how to read. From elementary school through high school I took science classes from biology, marine biology, to environmental science, psychology and anatomy. I wanted to be almost every kind of scientist growing up.

Charles Roop: I was in fourth grade when I became interested in the sciences. I had a fourth grade teacher that was interested in astronomy and earth science.

What made you want to pursue meteorology?

Mike McCall: The one particular event I can remember is when it snowed in Tampa - January of 1977. I was eleven years old, and already a big fan of the local weather man, Roy Leep. In addition to that, just watching the daily summer afternoon thunderstorms was always intriguing to me.

Rob Nucatola: I saw a movie when I was about 15 or 16. The main character was a TV Meteorologist, and I thought his job looked like the most fun job ever.

Brittany Bedi: As a kid, I was terrified of severe weather. Growing up in Tampa, it came with the territory, especially in the summer. I was also intrigued by it. By the time the 2004 hurricane season rolled around, I was interested in meteorology and the relationship between weather and other sciences.

Charles Roop: It started with a nagging question when I was nine years old. I wondered why it rained every afternoon one summer when all I wanted to do was play outside with my friends. I started watching the local TV weathercasts to find out why. I wanted to learn more about it, and I became hooked.

The 'A' in STEAM stands for art. Did you participate in any activities involving the visual or performing arts?

Mike McCall: I was a band nerd, starting in 8th grade, and lasting through college. Does that count? I'd say yes. (Some may not qualify drumming as an art. I beg to differ.)

Rob Nucatola: I did theatre all the way through school and through college. I did public address announcing too. I was into AV stuff. Back then technology wasn't so available, so getting to use that kind of equipment was a real treat. Some of the fun in discovering how things worked is helping others figure it out too.

Brittany Bedi: I did ballet for 11 years growing up. I also played the violin from 6th grade through high school. I loved being in orchestra and loved taking photography, ceramics, and drawing/painting classes. Even now, I still enjoy playing my violin or ukulele and enjoy painting and crafts.

Charles Roop: My mom and I got our first camcorder (remember those, kids?) when I was in the eighth grade. I would record things such as family events, "shows" my friends would record, and, yes, weather phenomena (thunderstorms, hail, etc.) I eventually got into still photography, which led me to initially study photojournalism at the University of Florida. I was a photojournalist and a multimedia editor at the Independent Florida Alligator, and a photo intern at The Gainesville Sun.

Do you think it's important to encourage STEAM interests in students?

Mike McCall: Incredibly important. STEAM students will be performers, inventers, teachers, etc. With high tech becoming the norm, we need young, brilliant minds to help us keep pace.

Rob Nucatola: ABSOLUTELY. There's so much that kids don't know they like until they try it. And science and arts helps them discover those things. Giving them new ways to see the world and new avenues to express themselves is so important to their development.

Brittany Bedi: Of course! Science and arts may seem very different, but they go hand-in-hand. Giving kids an opportunity to explore STEAM activities can only help our future, especially in such technologically-advanced times. The demand for creative and bright minds will only increase.

Charles Roop: Yes. It can help unleash creative thinking, which is crucial. And, for me, I was able to tie weather into my photo and video skills, which is good to have in the visual media business.

Is there anything that viewers may not know about you?

Mike McCall: If I had to choose other careers instead of being a broadcast meteorologist, they could have been (a), a science teacher, or (b) a drummer in a band. I get to do (a) on air and on school visits, and I'm still not giving up hope on (b), at least part time.

Brittany Bedi: In middle school we all took career aptitude tests. I remember my results being arts/broadcasting, forestry/ environmental services, and education. I think this field encompasses all of those topics, and exposure to STEAM helped me move towards my career.

Charles Roop: I am terrible at mathematics, I have struggled with the subject since I walked into elementary school, but I was able to get as far as I got with hard work and persistence.