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Grades 3-4

This lesson provides students with an understanding of how weather is created and how it affects daily life. Video, hands-on activities and print components allow students to gain an understanding of various aspects of weather and the instruments used to track and measure it. As students explore what causes weather and how conditions are measured, they will relate its importance in the lives of people.
How Do Clouds Float? #107

Wind #125

Eyes in the Sky: Weather Satellite #111
Students will be able to:

(per class)

(per student)

Display the weather forecast section of your local newspaper in view of all students. Describe information provided in the weather section, then ask"Why would the newspaper devote so much space and provide so much information about local and national weather?" Elicit discussion leading to conclusion that weather affects everyone in many different ways. Write on the chalkboard:"How would weather affect you if...?" Allow volunteers to respond as you suggest the following:

You are a pilot; you are going on a picnic; you are preparing for a trip out of town; you are planting a garden; and you are selecting clothes to wear to school?

Ask,"Where do you get information about the weather forecast?" Allow students to respond."How did today's weather influence you?" Lead discussion toward conclusion that weather dictates what we wear, sometimes what we eat and at times what we do or how we do it. Ask students to describe and tell about the most exciting weather event they ever witnessed.
Say,"You are going to see a video that tells about different types of weather. What types do you predict the video will include?" List on chalkboard as students make their predictions. To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say,"As you watch the video, check to see if you predicted accurately."

Viewing Activities
How Do Clouds Float? #107
tape immediately following opening credits. PAUSE tape on video of clouds; audio is,"Meteorologists also study clouds in the sky." Allow time for students to evaluate their predictions made prior to viewing the video. Say,"Although types of weather are very different, each is created by the same basic force." To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say,"Watch the next video and be prepared to tell what the force is."

FAST FORWARD and BEGIN tape with visual of flags in the wind; audio is,"Wind is air that moves." STOP tape after visual of globe sequence; audio is,"Wind is motion of air powered by the sun." Allow time for students to tell weather is created by the basic force, wind. Lead discussion toward conclusion that movement of air is powered by energy from the sun.

Use a world globe to locate the equator and the North Pole. Allow students to experiment as they spin the globe. Instruct them to develop a theory explaining whether the equator or the North Pole rotates more quickly. After all students have developed a theory, use masking tape to secure a 1-inch square of construction paper to the equator and one to the North Pole. Instruct students to test their theory as you rotate the globe. (The square taped to the North Pole rotates more quickly.)

Explain there are five main wind zones on earth. Discuss individually as names are written on chalkboard and the following information is used to direct student discussion. Doldrums: At the equator, air rises very slowly. In this area, there are few surface winds. Long ago when ships were powered by wind and sails, they were often marooned for weeks without a breeze in the dull space."

Trade Winds: These winds are caused by cooler air moving in from the east, replacing the warm air rising over the equator. These wind belts provided popular routes for sailing vessels, as the breezes blow almost constantly. The name of these winds comes from the old Germanic word meaning"on course."

Horse Latitudes: Two narrow belts approximately 30 degrees north and 30 degrees south latitude where some of the warm air that rises over the equator sinks down again to the surface. Similar to the doldrums, the horse latitudes are areas of calm winds. These wind belts were given this strange name because Spanish ships carrying horses to the New World were frequently stranded there. It is told that the sea was often littered with bodies of horses that had starved and had been thrown overboard after the ships ran out of food and water.

Prevailing Westerlies: These wide wind belts stretch from approximately 30 degrees to 60 degrees north and south latitudes. In these areas, winds moving from the horse latitudes toward the poles are forced by the rotation of the earth to move somewhat from west to east. Pre-vailing westerlies are largely responsible for the west to east movement of weather across the United States and Canada.

Polar Easterlies: These wind belts extend from the poles to 60 degrees north and south latitude. In general, air movement is from east to west in this area because the earth is rotating faster than the movement of air above it. Air is twisted when force created by earth's rotation affects it as it attempts to flow away from the poles.

Interested students might research a specific wind zone and provide additional information through a presentation to the class at a later time.

Say,"A major factor influencing the creation of wind is heat from the sun. What do you already know about the movement of air when it becomes heated?" Allow students to share their knowledge; list on chalkboard as facts are shared with classmates. To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say,"As you watch the next video, look for additional facts to add to the list as Bill Nye explains how wind is caused by heat from the sun."

Wind #125
tape on visual of Bill Nye as he is blown through the door; audio is"In nature wind is caused by heat of the sun." STOP tape after completion of the wind box demonstration; audio is"Wind is Wild." Allow time for students to review and add to the previous facts listed on chalkboard prior to viewing the video. Ask,"What can you name that are indications the wind is blowing?" Allow time for student responses; lead discussion to conclusion there are physical signs as hair blowing, wind on face or arms, leaves rustle, flag waves, etc.

Distribute a copy of Activity Sheet #1, the Beaufort Wind Scale, to each student. Discuss the chart, then have students go to the windows and observe physical indications outside that will provide clues to the"Name of Wind" they believe to be blowing. Allow time for the task to be completed and for students to return to their seats. Encourage volunteers to explain how they identified the"Name of the Wind" applicable to the Beaufort Wind Scale. Attempt to reach class consensus, then have students fill in chart for the appropriate day. Assign com-pletion of the remaining six days as an independent activity. Compare individual results on the first class day after the chart has been completed.

Say,"You can now explain how wind is the motion of air powered by the sun. Who can tell another effect the sun has on water?" Allow students to respond, then provide students with a specific responsibility for viewing the next video as you instruct,"Watch the next video to test for accuracy what you believe about the sun's effect on water."

How Do Clouds Float? #107
tape on visual of a motel by the ocean; audio is,"Heat of the sun also causes water to evaporate into air." PAUSE tape on visual of representation of cloud in a bottle and allow students to evaluate their previous beliefs concerning the sun's effect on water. Ask,"How does heat from the sun affect water?" (It causes water to evaporate into the air.) Discuss that water vapor is carried upward with currents of warm air. As warm air rises and comes in contact with cooler air, condensation takes place and clouds are formed. Write condensation on chalkboard. Encourage students to share their knowledge of condensation. (Inside of a window pane in a warm room on a cold day; eye glasses fogging over; bathroom mirror becoming fogged when you shower; etc.) Say,"As clouds come in contact with cooler air, they become larger. When they become saturated with condensation, they release it and it falls back to earth as some form of pre-cipitation." Write precipitation on chalk-board. Encourage students to tell where they have heard the term and to define it. (TV weather report) Ask,"What forms might precipitation take?" (rain, snow, sleet) Ask,"How would you contrast a fog and a cloud? (Both are vapor condensed to fine particles of water. In fog the particles of water are suspended in the lower atmosphere; in clouds they are suspended in the upper atmosphere. Fog differs from a cloud only in being near the ground.) Explain the water cycle. Say, "Whenever you see a form of precipitation falling to earth, it is evidence that the water cycle is beginning in that particular location all over again." Encourage students to consider, then share their beliefs about the importance of the water cycle to plant and animal life on the planet earth.

Demonstrate evaporation by heating 8 oz. of water (1 cup) in a small sauce pan on a hot plate. Draw attention to the steam as it rises from the pan. Ask,"What happens to the water as it boils?" (Droplets of water evaporate into the air as steam is created.) Hold a small mirror near the steam. Instruct students to observe, then describe what happened. (Steam collects on the mirror as a fog, then condenses into droplets of water as it cools.) Encourage students to relate this to a ground fog or the creation of a cloud. Allow water in the sauce pan to cool; have students predict how many ounces evaporated into the air. Determine the remaining amount of water using the measuring cup. Have students subtract the remaining amount from the original 8 ounces. Ask,"What does your com-putation prove?" ("X" ounces of water evaporated into the air because the temperature of the water was increased.)

Have students tell words they might use to describe clouds as you write them on the chalkboard. To give students a specific responsibility while viewing, say,"Watch the next video to learn about different shapes and sizes of clouds, then be pre-pared to tell the cloud best described by each word in the chalkboard list." FAST FORWARD tape to visual of clouds; audio is,"There are many different shapes and sizes of clouds." STOP tape after clouds have been shown; audio is,"Some clouds cover the whole sky." Allow time for students to use the knowledge they acquired from the video as they categorize the chalkboard list of words they used to describe clouds.

Ask,"What type of clouds are in the sky today?" Allow time for students to express opinions without challenge. Reinforce the concept that all clouds are formed in the same way by condensation of water vapor as warm air is cooled. Distribute a copy of Activity Sheet #2 to each student. Discuss, then emphasize that the eleven major kinds of clouds are variations of the stratus clouds and cumulus clouds. Write terms on chalk-board and explain that stratus (or spread out) clouds develop when air is cooled without vertical movement and cumulus (or piled up) clouds are formed by rising air currents.

Write temperature on the chalkboard. Explain that climatic temperature is a measure of the average speed of random motions of air molecules. Say, "The faster molecules move, the higher the temperature." Stress that climatic temperature is determined by various factors, especially sunlight and wind. Ask,"When have you used the term temperature? Who have you heard use the term?" Distribute a copy of Activity Sheet #3 and a pair of scissors to each student. Explain that a thermometer is a tube with a small amount of mercury or some other liquid that will rise as it gets hotter. Include the Centigrade and Fahrenheit scales in your explanation. Say,"Fahrenheit is the scale most commonly used in the United States." Instruct students to cut out the black strip at bottom of page. Explain it will be used as a substitute for mercury in showing various temperatures on the thermometer. Hold a copy of the thermometer and"mercury strip" in view of students; demonstrate a reading of 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a thermometer in the classroom, ask a volunteer to read the room's temperature.

Instruct students to show how the thermometer would look as you present hypothetical situations. Move around the room to check individual competency. Say,"How would your thermometer look if you were: at the beach on a day the temperature is 90 degrees; skiing in the Rockies and the temperature is 36 degrees; listening to a weather forecast that gives the day's low reading at 20 degrees; mowing a lawn when the temperature is 76 degrees; and you are playing outside when the temperature is 45 degrees."

Say,"Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Show how your thermometer would look at the temperature when water will freeze." Allow time for students to position the black"mercury strip." Say,"Water boils at 212 degrees. Can you show the boiling point of water on your thermometer? Why?" (No; it only goes to 130 degrees.) Say,"Show the most comfortable classroom temperature for you." Have students tell their most comfortable classroom temperature. Use their readings and have the class find the average comfortable classroom temperature.

Write meteorologist on the chalkboard; allow students to define the term in their own words. Ask,"Does a meteorologist need more instruments than a thermometer to forecast weather?" Allow students to express their opinions. Say,"You are going to see a video that shows a meteorologist forecasting weather." To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say,"Listen for terms that tell how sure or unsure he is about the forecast he is giving."

Eyes in the Sky: Weather Satellite #111
tape immediately following opening credits. PAUSE tape on visual of the globe; audio is,"Location of clouds and storm systems and their movement from one place to another." Ask,"Do you think the forecasts were accurate? What terms used by the meteorologist made you think they may not be?" (probably and I would guess)

Say,"Today, satellites help meteorologists take guess work out of forecasting." To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say,"Watch the next video and be prepared to explain how satellites assist in accurately forecasting weather." FAST FORWARD tape to visual of the earth connected to a satellite; audio is,"... other group of satellites." STOP tape on visual of girl in front of a satellite dish; audio is,"Geostationary and polar orbiter work together to provide a global picture of developing weather patterns." Elicit discussion leading to conclusion that satellites transmit pictures of world wide weather patterns and movement which help meteorologists predict weather more accurately.
Post-Viewing Activities
Have students bring to class weather maps from the local newspaper. Tape satellite pictures from a local TV weather report. Use these as tools to trace the daily movement of weather patterns, changes in temperatures and to forecast weather in your area.
Action Plan
Invite a meteorologist to visit the classroom. Ask her/him to discuss the responsibilities associated with their profession and the educational training required to qualify them for the job of meteorologist.

Arrange a field trip to the meteorologist's department of a local television station.
Creative Writing
Encourage students to use their imaginations and create a poem or lyric based on the saying,"Raining cats and dogs."

Have students read Carl Sandburg's poem,"Fog" then select a form of precipitation and write a description of how it returns to earth.

Gather available information and predict weather three days in advance for your area.

Record rainfall in your area for a month. Create a line graph to show the amount recorded for each day during the period records are kept.

Master Teachers: Anna Sedoris and Jaci Stewart

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