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Science Journal: Keeping a Weather Log

Subject: Science

Grade: 3-5

Lesson Objective

The lesson objective is to interest students in various weather conditions, learn how to gather and interpret data, and understand the importance of gathering weather data. 

Next Generation Science Standards

3-ESS2-1: "Represent data in tables and graphical displays to describe typical weather conditions expected during a particular season."

Materials

  • Access to a computer
  • Construction paper and pencil
  • A thermometer and a barometer
  • Access to online weather sites

Prepping Your Class

Say: "What is today's weather like?" (Wait for a response.)

Say: "What do you think tomorrow's weather will be like?" (Wait for a response.)

Say: "What is a thermometer? What does it measure?" (Wait for a response.) 

Show your class a thermometer.

Explain: "We use a thermometer to measure heat. When the temperature goes up, the mercury in the tube rises. The place where the mercury stops shows you the temperature."

Say: "What is a barometer? What does it measure?" (Wait for a response.)

Show your class a barometer.

Explain: "Air has weight and a barometer compares the weight of the air with a column of mercury. If the mercury rises, it means that the pressure is high. If the mercury falls, the air pressure is low. As the air warms, the air rises. This causes low pressure at the surface. As the air cools, the air descends. This leads to high air pressure. Low air pressure usually means that we will have unsettled weather. Unsettled weather means that the weather changes a lot. High pressure usually means settled weather. This means that the weather stays the same for a while.

Ask: "Is this week's weather settled or unsettled?" (Wait for a response.)

Say: "What do you think the air pressure is like today? High or low?" (Wait for a response.)

Say: "This week, we will keep a weather log. A weather log is a record of the weather over a period of time."

Action: Provide each student with a piece of construction paper. On the board, show the layout of the weather log. On the top of the paper, have the students list the dates of your timeframe. Example: Monday, Tuesday, etc. Down the left side of the paper, list the following data: 

  1. Temperature
  2. Barometric Pressure
  3. Precipitation (Rain, snow, sleet, hail)
  4. Today's Weather
  5. Sky (Clear, partially cloudy, overcast)
  6. Wind Speed
  7. Wind Direction
  8. Humidity

Additional Notes

  • Ensure that your students note their observations roughly the same time each day. The weather in the early morning might be very different than at the school day's end.
  • If you've decided to cover a longer period, this period will include no-school days. You could ask students to make notes at home or limit the weather log to only school days. If you decide to cover only school days, get the students to tell you about the weather on other days.
  • Adjust your data accordingly; if your students can only grasp the precipitation and temperature, that is enough. Add more data areas as students become more skilled and understanding of weather. 
  • If your students don't have access to a real thermometer or barometer, there are plenty of online websites that students can use to record the data they need. 

Data Collection & Discussion

You will spend most of your class time on preparation. Once students have set themselves up, it will only take a few moments to fill in the information daily. You should ensure that students enter the information correctly and discuss any day-to-day differences.

As you discuss the day's weather, ask questions like:

  • "Why is accurate weather information important?"
  • "Who needs the weather information?" (Farmers, construction crews, etc.)
  • "Why do you think it's difficult to predict the weather over a long period?
  • "Do you see a connection between any of the data?" This will be more obvious in states with very changeable weather than in states with more stable climates. Vermont's weather is very different from Arizona's.

Supplementary Work

You should reinforce what your students have learned by showing them a YouTube video.

It might be a good idea to prepare a short quiz for the class after they have watched the video. Doing this will let you see if they need extra work or time to gather and analyze their data. 

Further Resources

If you are looking for materials about the weather to use in this or future classes, the following link to the National Weather Service may be helpful.

Written by Steve Tomkinson
Education World Contributor
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