Lesson 1: Make a Weather Station
Meteorology is the study of all changes in the atmosphere,
i.e. the layers of gases (air) that surround the earth. In
this lesson, students will design and build some of the same
instruments that meteorologists use and make a Weather
Learning log to record their answers. This log will be
an important tool because they will use it to record all of
their data and information as the students complete their
Students will be able to:
- describe weather and relate how weather affects
their daily lives;
- observe and record weather-related data;
- construct instruments for measuring weather; &
- explain and demonstrate how each instrument is used to measure
Approximately three hours spread over a one week period.
(This will depend on
your grade level and ability level of your students. If time
is short, each group can build an instrument; see Part 2:
- LIMITED ACCESS: For this activity, computer / Internet
access is not required however every student or pair of
students will need to access the Internet for the next
activity (Activity 2). Therefore, if you do not have
access to a computer lab or place with at least one
computer for every two students, it is highly recommended
to combine the first two activities (Activity 1 and
Activity 2). For a full description of one way to combine
both activities, see the note for
1 & 2 below.
- METHODOLOGY: For this activity, it is recommended that
you assign the students to work in small groups to design
and construct weather instruments with each student having
specific tasks assuring that each team member has a role.
- Weather related-topics:
Part 1: Introduction
Before introducing the weather equipment to students,
read all directions accompanying the equipment, perform
test runs prior to using them with your students, and
select an area inside the classroom to store the barometer
and an area outside to install the rain gauge (both must
be installed at level positions) and use the thermometer
(where it is not exposed to direct sunlight), wind vane,
and anemometer. The materials needed for the construction
of the weather equipment are listed on the corresponding
pages for each of the instruments.
Begin by leading a brief class discussion with the
students on how weather affects their daily lives
considering such factors as the kinds of clothes they wear
and the outdoor activities that they can do. Optionally,
you can use the first one or two questions from Step 2
(i.e. What do they think of when they hear the word
"weather"?, etc.). This will get them thinking about
- Make a Weather Learning Log:
answer the following questions: After a brief
discussion, divide students into groups and ask them to
discuss and answer the questions.
Brainstorm: One the students have answered the
questions, they should move on to the next step and try to
brainstorm designs for instruments.
Once the groups have brainstormed designs for their instruments AND
answered the questions, gather the groups to report on
their ideas. The groups will come up with different
solutions to the problem that was posed (for example a
group might decide to hold a long paper streamer straight
up in the air and the direction that it points will tell
them something about wind direction). After allowing time
for reports, tell them that, although their ways are good
and that they will have time to try out their ideas, you
are going to show them how to make the instruments that
they will be using in this unit.
- Have students take
out their journal. Students can either complete a
Weather Learning Log individually or in small groups
(this will depend on your objectives).
- Sky Conditions: It is important to decide
on a standardized way to report sky conditions. The
class should come to a consensus as to the words
(cloudy, partly cloudy, overcast, etc.) they should
use to identify skies that are not clear and you
should post these on the classroom wall.
Activities 1 & 2:
While Internet / computer access is not required for
this activity, it is recommend that every student or
pair of students access the weather web site used in the
next activity (Activity 2) so that they learn how to
collect weather data from the Internet. One way to do
this if you do not have access to a computer lab is to
Combine Activities 1 & 2 by asking students or
pairs of students from each group as they are making
their weather instruments to individually go to the
computers in your classroom and complete the Internet
data collection section of Activity 2 (i.e. Part 2:
Use the Internet to observe weather). Students can
then add their weather observations collected from their
instruments directly to the Current Conditions table and
complete Part 3: Analyze the Data after all of
the weather instruments have been made.
Part 2: Make a Class Weather Station
- Build the Weather Instruments: It is
recommended that each of the groups build all five weather
instruments so that they have a thorough understanding of
each of the common tools that meteorologists use. By
collecting their own data, the students will learn more
about weather through a process similar to the one that
professional meteorologists use.
Practice: to assure accuracy in equipment use,
encourage the groups to repeat their tests and calculate
average results.Record your measurements: Once
the groups have repeated the tests, they should record
their measurements in their Weather Learning Log or their
Student Worksheet. If you are combing Activities 1 & 2,
students can record their measurements directly to the
Current Conditions table.
- After completing their instruments, each group
should store them in a box and take their thermometer,
anemometer, wind vane, and rain gauge outside with them
each day since it would be impractical for the students
to leave their instruments outside for the duration of
- TIME: If time does not permit each group to make
their own instruments, you can assign each
group an instrument. In this case, if you have more than 5 groups, you can
elect to have the additional groups make the same
instrument. Once completed, all of the instruments could
then be put together to create a class weather station.
Students can either answer the questions
when they complete this activity or as an optional
homework assignment. If you opt for the students to
complete the questions as a homework assignment, please
note that Internet access will be required to complete
numbers 3 & 4.
- If only one or a few of the students in each of
the group has access to the Internet at home,
library, etc., you can either print and distribute the
satellite maps or ask a member from each group to
print and share the satellite maps with the other
Make each student or cooperative group responsible for
the the answers to the questions and the accuracy of
the instruments that they build.
NOTE: The following instructions
also appear in Student Activities.
Activity 1: Make a
Part 1: Introduction
- Make a Weather Learning Log: This log will be an important tool.
You will use it to record weather information as time goes on.
- Write your name on the notebook (if you are working as a group, each
member should put their name on it). As an optional activity, you can
decorate the cover as well.
- Discuss and answer the following questions.
Record your answers in your Journal.
- What do you think of when you hear the word "weather"?
- How does weather affect our daily lives? (Ex. what kinds of clothes
do you wear, outdoor activities that you do, etc.)
- What kinds of things would you look for if you wanted to describe the
weather of a particular day to someone else?
- What kinds of information are important to collect?
- Brainstorm designs for instruments that you could use to measure each
of the following AND answer the corresponding questions in your Journal:
- Temperature: What does temperature have to do with weather?
- Wind: How can you describe wind? Are there different types of wind?
Can you measure how fast the wind is blowing and where its blowing to?
- Precipitation: Are there different types of precipitation?; How could
rain be measured?
- Air pressure: What is air pressure? Why should we measure it? What does air pressure
have to do with weather?
- Sky conditions: Write a list of standardized terms to describe
sky conditions (e.g. clear, partly cloudy, overcast with openings, overcast,
- Present: Each group should first design the class weather
- Additionally, the class should develop a list of standardized sky
condition terms to use for the rest of this project.
Part 2: Make a Class Weather Station
- Build the following weather instruments in the order below. Directions
are provided for each.
- Barometer (Air pressure)
- Rain Gauge (Precipitation)
- Thermometer (Temperature)
- Wind Vane (Wind Direction)
- Anemometer (Wind Speed)
- Practice with the Instruments: repeatedly test the
instruments for accuracy.
- Record your measurements: Please follow the guidelines below.
NOTE: If you are combining Activities 1 and 2, record
your measurements in the column marked "Class Instruments" in the Current
- Temperature (Use a commercial outdoor thermometer and record in
- Sky conditions (Observe outside and use one of the
standardized sky condition terms. For example, clear, partly cloudy, overcast
with openings, overcast, etc.):
- Wind (calm, light, etc.):
- Wind Direction (N, NW, W, SW, etc.):
- Wind Speed (how many times the anemometer spun):
- Precipitation Type (at data collection time - rain, drizzle,
snow, none, etc.):
- Precipitation Amount (in last 24 hours. Record your findings in
- Air Pressure (record your finding in the units marked on your
- Do you think the weather instruments you made are as accurate as those used by professional meteorologists? Why
or why not?
- How could you make them more accurate?
- If you have Internet access, select and print a
maps (back-up) where your country is located and answer the questions below:
- What do you see in the map?
- Do the current weather conditions in your city match up to what you
see on the satellite map?
- How could you use a satellite map to predict weather?