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:
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.Equipment and fees for the projects cost $400-$600 per participating school.
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.
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