Earth and Space Science

Weather and Middle School

Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:01 PM

Let me start by saying I love teaching about weather.  However, my students are (to put it mildly) less than enthused about this unit.  If I'm being honest the number of hands on activities for my weather limit is pretty limited.  At this point in their academic career most of my students have done the traditional activities where they go outside and look at the weather, take the temperature, read a barometer, etc.  They've done weather notebooks where they're supposed to watch the news and keep a log of entries and then write about the forecast.  

How do you grab and hold your students interest in this topic?  What are some activities/projects that help students feel more involved?  I feel like I do quite a bit of lecturing and would love to steer this unit towards a more student centered approach.  My district is one to one so students have access to technology.  

Shalen Boyer
Shalen Boyer
4315 Activity Points

Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:01 PM

Grab their attention. Start by posing facts/questions about various weather phenomenons:
- The strongest Typhoon in history killed 6,300 people.
- On July 15 1972, Death Valley was recorded has having the highest natural ground temperature of 93.9 °C (201 °F).
- The lowest natural temperature ever directly recorded at ground level on Earth is -89.2 °C (-128.6 °F; 184.0 K) at the Soviet Vostok
Station in Antarctica on July 21, 1983 by ground measurements.
- The Tri-State volcano hold 5 records: Most extreme, deadliest, longest duration, longest path, and fastest speed.
- The largest hailstone ever recorded in the United States measured 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter and 18.62 inches (47.3 cm) in
circumference, weighing in at 1.93 pounds (0.88 kg).
- A haboob, around 2,000 feet tall and 100 miles wide, traveled 35 mph and engulfed the city of Phoenix.

Follow up with videos about these phenomenons.

Have them do a project (powerpoint, diorama, posterboard, etc.) with presentation explaining these weather phenomenons (how they are created, how they affect the environment/community, etc).
*make is student centered: Guide them by asking questions and NOT giving them what they need to know.

Randy Florendo
Randy Florendo
300 Activity Points

Thu Feb 08, 2018 10:44 PM

Do a closed weather system. There are a bunch of sites that show how to do miniature weather cycles and other weather related crafts. If you are going further you can look at building closed biomes. what goes into a system and why it remains successful.

Jeff Torrance
Jeff Torrance
560 Activity Points

Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:55 AM

Hi Shalen. You might try the American Meteorological Society for ideas

The AMS has free graduate level courses you can take and also has week-long workshops in the summer that are excellent.

I took Project Atmosphere and the Maury Program and they were both great. The training is at the NOAA NWS National Training Center at Kansas City, MO, and was inspirational. You can apply for 2018 - the deadline is March 26. We did a field trip to Kansas City, Kansas, and got caught in a tornado. It gave me lots of discussion opportunities to use in my Inquiry Based class. I followed up with the Maury Program at the U.S. Naval Academy where we got a lot of activities in oceanography.

In my class, we monitored precip each day with a rain gage and in the winter a snow stick. We installed a weather station and did highs and lows each day for temp, did the barometric pressure, played with a sling hygrometer, and had an anemometer. We moved from discussions of weather to climate, climate change, human based effects on the weather and climate based on pollution, and eventually installed a remote sensing weather sensing station on the flat roof of our gym which broadcast directly to our smart board. Our regional NWS center granted my class the designation of an official weather station and the kids got a kick at seeing their readings on the NOAA/NWS weather site.

Also, the AMS has master atmospheric education resource teachers called peer trainers who are happy to come in and present, if your school is close enough to a mentor.

I hope his helps a little, Shalen.

Best of luck!


James Johnson
James Johnson
93625 Activity Points

Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:31 PM

Have them try making a cloud in a bottle. The attached file mentions adiabatic temperature changes, but you do not need to go into it to that degree.

Fizz Keepers are available from Amazon:
Temperature strips are available from the AMS.

I like these the most, but have used others purchased from pet supply stores.


Cris DeWolf
10995 Activity Points

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