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Lesson Plans
Weather Watchers
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students


Procedures for Teachers is divided into four sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the Lesson.
Steps -- Conducting the Lesson.
Extensions -- Additional Activities.
Tips -- Managing Resources and Student Activities.


Prep

Materials:
  • Materials will vary, depending on chosen tool-construction method. See materials listed for construction of weather measurement tools in each related bookmark.
Computer Resources:
You will need at least one computer with Internet access to complete this lesson. While many configurations will work, we recommend:

  • Modem: 28.8 Kbps or faster.
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 3.0 or above or Internet Explorer 3.0 or above.
  • Macintosh computer: System 7.0 or above and at least 16 MB of RAM.
  • IBM-compatible computer: 386 or higher processor with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 3.1. Or, a 486/66 or Pentium with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 95 or higher.


For more information, visit What You Need to Get Connected in wNetSchool's Internet Primer.

Bookmarks:
The following sites should be bookmarked:

  •  CNN Weather
    http://www.cnn.com/WEATHER/index.html

    After you enter a zip code or a city name, this site provides a quick, clear overview of current weather conditions in that area.

  •  CNN Weather Maps and Images
    http://www.cnn.com/WEATHER/images.html

    This extensive source for weather satellite images provides both still images and animated maps.

  •  WeatherNet -- WeatherCams
    http://cirrus.sprl.umich.edu/wxnet/wxcam.html

    Instead of a collection of weather statistics, this site gives the user a window on world weather conditions, with "WeatherCams" set up in most major cities in the U.S. In some cases, images are updated every few seconds.

    Creating a Classroom Weather Station

    General

    Make Your Own Weather Station (Franklin's Forecast)
    http://www.sln.fi.edu/weather/todo/todo.html

    Miami Museum of Science -- Make a Weather Station
    http://www.miamisci.org/hurricane/weatherstation.html

    Thermometer

    Observing Temperature
    http://www.miamisci.org/hurricane/temperature.html

    Weather Calculator
    http://nwselp.epcc.edu/elp/wxcalc.html
    This site provides information about converting temperature, moisture, barometric pressure, and wind-speed readings.

    Barometer

    Make a Barometer
    http://www.sln.fi.edu/weather/todo/barometer.html

    Observing Air Pressure
    http://www.miamisci.org/hurricane/airpressure.html

    How a Barometer Works
    http://www.usatoday.com/weather/wbaromtr.htm
    This is a background article for the teacher's use.

    Precipitation

    Observing Moisture
    http://www.miamisci.org/hurricane/moisture.html

    Rain Gauge

    Make Your Own Rain Gauge
    http://www.sln.fi.edu/weather/todo/r-gauge.html

    Make a Rain Gauge
    http://www.miamisci.org/hurricane/rainmeasure.html

    How a Rain Gauge Works
    http://www.usatoday.com/weather/wrngauge.htm
    This is a background article for the teacher's use.

    Weather Vane

    Make a Weather Vane
    http://www.sln.fi.edu/weather/todo/vane.html

    Compass

    Make a Compass
    http://www.sln.fi.edu/weather/todo/compass.html

    Anemometer

    Make an Anemometer
    http://sln.fi.edu/tfi/units/energy/dixie.html

    Observing Wind
    http://www.miamisci.org/hurricane/wind.html

    How to Measure Wind
    http://www.usatoday.com/weather/wanemom.htm
    This is a background article for the teacher's use.
    Steps

    Time Allotment:
    This lesson requires approximately 6 class periods. (Note: After the students have created their weather station instruments on the first day, the amount of time required on subsequent days will be minimal -- students will need about 20 minutes a day to take measurements and transfer data to their charts.)




  • Introduce the lesson by asking students to describe the current weather in your area. Write down all suggestions on the board. Students will probably comment in general terms (e.g., "It's sunny today.") Ask students if they've ever heard the words "meteorology" or "meteorologist." Some students may be familiar with these terms from watching local news programs, which sometimes have weather reports given by meteorologists. Explain that the job of a meteorologist is to measure and forecast weather conditions. You may wish to discuss some of the reasons why someone would want to know the weather ahead of time. Tell the class that together you are going to use the Internet to find out the weather conditions in three different cities in the U.S. Explain that one of the cities will be the class's hometown. Invite the class to suggest two other cities that they predict might have different weather than their hometown. Write all three city names on the board and use the CNN Weather Site to look up information about each of the cities. To research the weather of the class's hometown, enter your local zip code in the field provided.

    The Internet can show students the weather in different ways. Bring your class to CNN's Weather Maps and Images, and look up the same three cities. You'll see weather patterns provided by satellites that orbit Earth. (NOTE: At this time, don't worry about explaining the details of these weather maps -- you can simply emphasize that meteorologists use these maps to find out, for example, when rough winds such as a hurricane may be approaching an area.) These maps can also measure temperature.

    Students will also enjoy using the WeatherNet -- WeatherCams Web site to get a peak at the actual weather conditions they learned about on the other sites. It's one thing to read about rainy conditions -- it's quite another to see people carrying umbrellas or trying to dodge the raindrops.




  • Divide students into cooperative groups and distribute three copies of the Weather Watchers Chart, in Organizers for Students, to each group. Inform students that they will be creating their own instruments to measure weather conditions. Depending on the time available, the task of creating the weather station can be divided -- different groups of students can create different instruments. For younger students, it will probably be necessary to take the entire class step-by-step through the process of each instrument.

    Ideally, the instruments should be built on a Thursday or Friday, so that the class can measure the weather on five consecutive days during the following week.

    The Miami Museum of Science and Franklin's Forecast are two excellent sites that provides detailed directions and illustrations for making a weather station. Since these Web pages are essentially lists of instructions and illustrations, you may wish to save time by printing these out beforehand and duplicating enough copies for each cooperative group.

    Explain to the class that they are going to measure the weather every day for a week in six different ways. The appropriate Web pages for each measurement tool are listed in the bookmarks for this lesson. The class will measure the following:
    Temperature. It is measured by thermometer.

    Air Pressure. It is the amount of pressure the atmosphere puts on the planet, and is measured with an instrument called a barometer.

    Type of Precipitation. Is there any rain or snow? This is measured by observation.

    Amount of Precipitation. It is measured by a rain gauge.

    Wind Direction. It is measured with a weather vane and a compass. You can use a store-bought compass or follow the Web page instructions for creating your own compass.

    Wind Speed. It is measured with a special instrument called an anemometer (pronounced "an-uh-MOM-uh-tur").




  • After you have made all the weather measurement instruments, you're all set to begin observing as a class. Divide students into small cooperative groups. For five days -- at the same time of day (or as close as possible) -- each group should be responsible for taking one of the six measurements, and recording their observations on the first of the Weather Watchers Charts, in Organizers for Students. They should then share this information with the rest of the class. Rotate the groups every day to give all the groups a chance to try each of the instruments.

    Students should then use the CNN Weather Site to get the comparable information for two other cities decided upon by the group. They should record this information daily on the two remaining Weather Watchers Charts, in Organizers for Students.




  • At the end of the week, review the data they have gathered. Have students make simple graphs of the data collected. Were there any patterns during the week? Based on the weather from the week, ask students to make some predictions about weather for the following week in your hometown and in the other cities charted.




  • (Optional.) For a longer-term, weather-station project, you should consider joining the GLOBE (http://www.globe.gov) network. According to the GLOBE Web site:
    Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) is a worldwide network of students, teachers, and scientists working together to study and understand the global environment. Students and teachers from over 6,000 schools in more than 70 countries are working with research scientists to learn more about our planet.

    GLOBE students make environmental observations at or near their schools and report their data through the Internet. Scientists use GLOBE data in their research and provide feedback to the students to enrich their science education. Global images based on GLOBE student data are displayed on the World Wide Web, enabling students and other visitors to visualize the student environmental observations.
    Equipment and fees for the projects cost $400-$600 per participating school.


    Extensions

    As a math application, you might want to ask students to make a separate graph for each of the weather measurements over the five days. If you wish, you can explain the concept of "wind chill factor." Many students who live in colder climates may have heard this term before but may not understand how it is determined. The "wind chill factor" tells what the weather outside will feel like vs. the actual temperature. The wind makes the temperature feel colder. Students can use the Wind Chill Calculator (http://nwselp.epcc.edu/elp/windchill.html) to plug in different temperatures and wind speeds to determine the wind chill.

    Tips

    One Computer in the Classroom
    If you have access to one computer in your classroom, you can organize your class in several ways. Divide your class into two groups. Instruct one of the groups to do paper research while the second group is working on the computer. Bring in books, encyclopedias, etc., from the library for the group doing paper research. When the groups have finished working, have them switch places.

    If you have a big monitor or projection facilities, you can do Internet research together as a class. Make sure that every student in your class can see the screen, go to the relevant Web site(s), and review the information presented there. You can also select a search engine page and allow your students to suggest the search criteria. Again, bookmark and/or print the pages that you think are helpful for reference later.

    Several Computers in the Classroom
    Divide your class into small groups. Groups can do Internet research using pages you have bookmarked. Group members should take turns navigating the bookmarked site.

    You can also set the class up so that each computer is dedicated to certain sites. Students will then move around the classroom, getting different information from each station.

    Using a Computer Lab
    A computer center or lab space, with a computer-to-student ratio of one to three, is ideal for doing Web-based projects. Generally, when doing Web-based research, it is helpful to put students in groups of three. This way, students can help each other if problems or questions arise. It is often beneficial to bookmark sites for students ahead of time.

    Submit a Comment: We invite your comments and suggestions based on how you used the lesson in your classroom.



    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students