Operation Weather Station: Weather Watch Lesson for Grades 3-5
- Grades: 3–5
- Unit Plan:
Students work in cooperative groups to create a working weather station that they use to collect data from over a one-week period. During that time, students also collect actual weather information from newspapers or online sources. Students then compare the two sets of data and draw conclusions about weather patterns.
- Understand when exact measurements are preferred over estimates.
- Learn to use different instruments to report wind speed, wind direction, air pressure, snow/rainfall, and temperature
- Work cooperatively with classmates to create an operational weather station
- Weather Watch Activity: Gather Data
- Weather Data Sheet (PDF), two copies per student
- Daily weather reports (e.g., from daily newspaper or at websites such as The Weather Channel, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or a local news site)
- Materials needed to build each weather tool: anemometer, wind vane, barometer, thermometer, rain and snow gauge
Set Up and Prepare
- Before Day 2, set up a supply station where students can easily pick up all the materials they need to build their weather tools. Also print the directions for each tool.
Step 1: Assess students' prior knowledge through discussion and by asking questions such as:
- What is weather?
- Why is the sky blue?
- How can meteorologists predict tomorrow's weather or that a snowstorm is possible in three days?
Step 2: Discuss the difference between guessing or predicting and taking an exact measurement. Ask students to think about instances when you want an exact measurement instead of a prediction. For example: If you were sick, would you want the doctor to guess what your temperature was? Or if your parents are driving a car, should they guess how fast they are going or use a tool to measure their exact miles per hour?
Step 3: Ask students if they know of any tools that can be used for measuring weather. These include an anemometer, barometer, thermometer, rain gauge, and wind vane. Write the names of each of these on the board or in a word bank as you discuss it so students may refer to them later.
Step 4: Have students go to the Gather Data section of Weather Watch to investigate the six different weather forecasting tools.
Step 5: Explain to students they will be creating a weather station with the forecasting tool, which they will use to learn about the weather for the next several days. (Depending on current weather conditions, the weather stations can include either a rain gauge or a snow gauge.)
Step 1: Divide students into either five or ten groups. Each group will be responsible for one of the tools needed for the weather station (so you will be able to set up one or two complete stations).
Step 2: Give each group a copy of the directions to build an anemometer, wind vane, barometer, thermometer, or rain or snow gauge.
Step 3: Allow approximately 30 minutes for students to build their tool. After all of the tools are completed, have each group explain what their tool does and how it works.
Step 4: Have students set up their weather stations in an area that is far from walls, shrubs, and trees.
Step 1: Distribute two copies of the Weather Data Sheet (PDF) to each student. On the top of one have them write, "Weather Station Data" and atop the other, "Actual Weather Data."
Step 2: Next, have students visit the weather station and follow the directions for experimenting with an anemometer, wind vane, barometer, thermometer, or rain or snow gauge. Have them record the data they collect on the "Weather Station Data" sheet.
Step 3: Once students have come back inside, go over their findings together. Ask students if they believe their results are accurate. Discuss ways you might get a weather forecast that is accurate (e.g., on television, on the radio, by calling a weather station, going online).
Step 4: Using a reliable print or online weather source, find a current weather report. Have students record this data on the "Actual Weather Data" sheet. Compare and contrast any differences between the real and actual data.
Step 5: Repeat steps 2-4 for the next four days.
Step 6: After five days of data collecting, have students look over their results. Discuss how the weather pattern changed over the week. What were the highest and lowest temperatures? Did temperature remain consistent? How did temperature and wind speeds compare? Does one affect the other? Who observed the most rain/snow? How can location determine if an area gets rain or snow? What did you observe about air pressure? When the pressure went up, what happened to your other observations?
Have students record their daily readings in a line graph for one or more areas of the forecast. Advise students to color code their graph for easy reading. The student readings could be in red while the professional readings could be in blue.
This Weather Watch activity meets national standards by providing students with opportunities in the following areas.
National Council for Teachers of Mathematics:
- Selects and uses appropriate instruments and technology to measure in real-world situations
- Generalizes a pattern, relation, or function to explain how a change in one quantity results in a change in another
- Analyzes real-world data to recognize relationships using graphic models generated by technology
Reading and Language Arts
International Reading Association (IRA) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE):
- Collects data, facts, and ideas
- Uses knowledge from oral, written, and electronic sources
- Compares, synthesizes, interprets, and analyzes information from different sources
- Selects, organizes, and categorizes information using a wide variety of strategies
- Relates new information to prior knowledge and experience
- Uses text features that make information accessible and usable
- Establishes authoritative stance on a subject
- Develops information using facts and details
- Analyzes interprets, and evaluates information, ideas, organization, and language from text
- Listens attentively to others and builds on others' ideas in discussions
National Science Teachers Association (NSTA):
- Plans and implements investigative procedures
- Uses equipment and technology
- Collects data by observing and measuring
- Analyzes and interprets information to construct reasonable explanations from direct and indirect evidence
- Communicates valid conclusions
- Constructs graphic structures of information using tools including computers to organize, examine, and evaluate data
- Analyzes and reviews scientific explanations
- Represents the natural world using models and identifies their limitations
Technology Foundation Standards for Students:
- Use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity
- Use a variety of media and formats to communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences
- Use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources
- Use technology tools to process data and report results
- Employ technology in the development of strategies for solving problems in the real world
- Were students able to distinguish between different types of clouds?
- Did students draw the clouds differently from day to day
- Did they label the clouds correctly?
- Was there anything you could do differently to make this lesson more successful next time?