Weather Watch

In the Weather and Climate Unit, students will reflect on what they currently know (and think they know) about the subject, explore the water cycle and water quality, make weather predictions by observing the clouds, and study the effects of the sun and the impact it has on various climates around the world. The Weather and Climate Unit will conclude with a look at Extreme Climates and how people have learned to live in these regions.

Page Contents

The Big Challenge
What is Severe Weather? - video
How is Weather Measured and Described?
How is the Weather Where You Live?
Weather Balloon Launch
How Are Weather Data Collected?
Weather vs. Climate
States of Matter Simulation
What Can We Learn From Clouds?
What Makes It Always So Cold at the Poles?
Land and Water Experiment
Why are there Differences in Precipitation?
Following the Water
What Causes Wind?
Global Winds Quiz
Surviving Severe Weather - Project
Weather Watch Unit Study Guide
Quizlet Flash Cards
Review Prezi

The Big Challenge

What's the Big Challenge? How do we survive a Severe Weather Event Throughout this unit, everything we do will be related in some way to this big challenge.

What is Severe Weather?

Weather Map.JPG

How is Weather Measured and Described?

  • In this Unit, you will begin to think about weather more scientifically than you have in the past. To get you started, you will look at different weather maps of the United States. You may have seen these types of maps before. They show a lot of information about the weather. All of the information comes from data that meteorologists collect. The data include such factors as temperature, air pressure, wind speed and direction, and rainfall. Meteorologists organize data in maps and tables to predict what the weather will be. They communicate their predictions to the public.
  • Click here to get started

Add the Following Terms to Your Science Notebook:

  • temperature: a measure of the average movement of particles of matter.
  • relative humidity: measure of the amount of water vapor in the air compared to the maximum possible amount that air can hold at a particular temperature; given as a percent, between 0 percent and 100 percent.
  • precipitation: water that falls to the ground as rain, snow, hail, or sleet.
  • air pressure: a measure of the force that air exerts on each square inch of a surface.
  • barometer: an instrument used to measure air pressure.
  • wind: the movement of air.
  • forecast: to predict.
  • climate: the normal weather conditions of a region, throughout the year, averaged over a series of years.

How Are Weather Data Collected Quiz

Weather Balloon Launch

external image weather-banner.png

How Are Weather Data Collected?

  • The details of the weather in the different regions of the United States show the wide range of events that can take place in the atmosphere. Meteorologists use weather stations set up around the world to collect weather data. The data allow meteorologists to make predictions about the weather. Five tools are always part of a weather station:
    • rain gauge - measures the amount of precipitation that has fallen to earth
    • thermometer - measures the temperature at a specific location
    • barometer - measures the air pressure (how much air is pushing down on a specific location)
    • anemometer - measures the wind speed
    • wind vane - measures the wind direction

Your Task

  1. Design an instrument to measure one of the conditions above.
  2. Create a labeled diagram to indicate all of the parts of your instrument.
  3. Write a paragraph to explain why your design helps your instrument perform its job.

Add the Following Terms to Your Science Notebook:

  • barometer - an instrument used to measure air pressure
  • temperature - a measure of the average movement of particles of matter
  • precipitation - water that falls to the ground as rain, snow, hail, or sleet
  • anemometer - an instrument used to measure wind speed

NASA Weather Monitoring

Weather vs. Climate


  • Observe the following image:
  • external image Bright_red_clouds_at_sun_rise.JPG
  • What do you think the photograph represents? When have you seen a sky that looks similar?

Weather and Climate Basics

  • What's the difference between Weather and Climate? Visit this site to find out!
  • Answer the following questions in your Science Notebook:
    • The weather at school today is...
    • How do you figure out what the weather is going to be like?
    • The climate where we live is...
    • The difference between Weather and Climate is...

Weather and Climate Around the World

  • Find out what the Weather and Climate is like in cities around the world
    • Chicago, Illinois, USA
    • São Paulo, Brazil
    • Novosibirsk, Russia
    • Lyon, France
    • Johannesburg, South Africa
    • Villa Las Estrellas, Antarctica
    • Seoul, South Korea
    • Tampa, Florida, USA
  • Find your city on this Interactive Climate Map.

Character Question

  • How is our character like the Weather and Climate?

external image 300px-Mdusdamap.jpg

Maryland's Climate

  • Click here for data about Maryland's climate.

Add the Following Terms to Your Science Notebook:

  • front - the area where two air masses collide


What Are the Climates of the World?

An Introduction to Climate

Climate Zones of the World Worksheet

external image worldclimate.gif

Weather vs. Climate

What Makes It Always So Cold at the Poles?

Angled Sunlight Experiment

  • To what extent does the angle of light affect the light that strikes a surface?
  • What do you think will happen to the light that is hitting a surface as a result of changing the angle of the surface?
    • Tell what you think and why you think that way.


  • flashlight
  • 4 pc graph paper
  • clipboard
  • protractor
  • stack of books


  1. Read the procedures and then make a hypothesis about the above question.
  2. Gather your materials.
  3. Label the four sheets of graph paper 90°, 110°, 130°, and 150°. Secure the 90° sheet to the clipboard.
  4. Place the clipboard on its edge and, using the protractor, make sure that the clipboard is tiltled at a 90° angle to the surface of the table. Devise a method to keep the board at that angle.
  5. Devise a method to hold the flashlight so that it is shining directly on the graph paper and that the flashlight and clipboard remain motionless. The flashlight should be parallel to the table and approximately 10 cm away from the clipboard. (see image below)
  6. Mark the area covered by the light. Describe the brightness of the light striking the paper.
  7. Without moving the flashlight, remove the graph paper and replace it with piece labeled 110°. Change the angle of the clipboard to 110°. (you may need to adjust the piece of paper so the light strikes it fully)
  8. Once again, mark the area covered by the light. and describe the brightness of the light striking the paper. Compare the brightness to the previous angle.
  9. Repeat the previous steps with the 130° and 150° graph paper.
Angled Sunlight Experiment.jpg


  1. Estimate the number of squares covered by the light on each of the trials. Which one covered the most area?
  2. Click here to view a Seasons and Ecliptic Simulator.
  3. Read pg 84 in the Weather Watch Text.

Add the Following Terms to Your Science Notebook:

  • glacier – large body of moving ice
  • hemisphere – one-half of Earth
  • icebergs – blocks of ice that break off from glaciers
  • North Pole – the northernmost part of Earth
  • South Pole – the southernmost part of Earth

Bill Nye - The Reasons For the Seasons

  1. Click here to answer a few questions about the lab. qrcode.37056224.png

Glaciers and Icebergs

How Glaciers Form

  • This video shows how glaciers are formed from snow.

  • What happens when glaciers reach the sea? What happens when you are trying to observe it and your boat's engine doesn't want to cooperate?

Land and Water Experiment

In this lab we will attempt to answer the following question:
  • Why are temperatures different near the coasts and inland?

Observe the following image:

external image MYQLafSGxLUYzqep27wcFpdSTvjCqgWwL9y17tluLPis-po92z-tPlMhm-oUOpa8MC7hbbh28Q
  • You may notice that the average temperatures near the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts are higher than they are farther away from the coasts (or inland.)

Land and Water Experiment (Collecting Evidence)

  • Complete the experiment on pages 110-113 in the Weather Watch Text.
  • Click Here for sample data.
  • Click Here to try another quick experiment to demonstrate the same thing.

Explanation (Scientific Reasoning)

  • The reason we had the results that were observed in both experiments is because water has a higher Specific Heat Capacity than land.
    • Specific Heat Capacity is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of a substance by 1℃.
      • Water takes longer to heat up and cool down because it has a high specific heat capacity.
      • The sand takes less time to heat up and cools down faster because it has a lower specific heat capacity.
      • The balloon with water in it will not pop because the water is absorbing the heat energy.
  • The coasts are much warmer than inland areas because of how close they are to water. The water retains the energy that it absorbs from the sun for a much longer time.

Add the Following Term to Your Science Notebook:

  • Specific Heat Capacity - the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of a substance by 1℃

Why are there Differences in Precipitation?


  • Where does rain come from and why does it rain?

Why Does it Rain? - Demonstration

  • In the Why Does It Rain Demonstration you will observe a closed model of the water cycle. As you observe the model make notes about any changes that you see.
  • Copy the Water Cycle Diagram below. Use the terms below to identify the numbers on the diagram.

Water Cycle Diagram

Water Cycle Diagram.jpg

Add the Following Terms to Your Science Notebook:

  • The Water Cycle - the process by which water circulates among Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and land
  • condensation – water vapor changing to a liquid state
  • evaporation – liquid turning into a vapor (gas)
  • precipitation – water falling from the sky in the form of rain, sleet, hail, or snow
  • runoff – rainwater that falls back into lakes, rivers, or streams soaking into the earth and becoming part of the groundwater

Water Cycle Websites

  • Visit this site to view the different parts of the water cycle in detail.
  • Visit this site to play a water cycle game.

Water Cycle Animation

Patterns of Precipitation

  • Read Page 157-165 in the Weather Watch Text to find out more about patterns of precipitation.

The Rain Shadow Effect

external image Chesapeakewatershedmap.png
external image Chesapeakewatershedmap.png

Following the Water - Google Earth Activity
This activity uses the Free Google Earth Application to locate water near the places you live and identify the path it follows toward its ultimate destination.
  • Click Here to get Started

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
There is a tremendous amount of garbage floating around in our oceans. As you found out from the Follow the Water Activity, most of it comes from trash thrown out on the land. Check out this video about the man who discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch:

This is also happening in the Atlantic Ocean as well.

Here is an interesting Blog called The Plastic Oceanby a person who is studying the trash in both oceans .

external image rubber-duck_0.jpgClick here for the story about the 28,000 rubber ducks that fell off a cargo ship in 1992 - and are still out there!

This young man came up with a solution to the Ocean Plastic Problem when he was
16 years old:

Tell Somebody About It!

Use what you have learned in the Following The Water activity to tell the world about the kind of impact they could have on the world's oceans through our local water.
  • Create one of the following:
    • a brief play (script)
    • a rap or song (written or typed out)
    • a poster
    • slideshow
    • comic strip
  • your finished product should include:
    • a claim about how trash from the land (especially plastic) can impact the ocean environment
    • evidence from any of the resources we have used in the Following the Water activity
    • reasoning (science facts) from the text or other sources

What Can We Learn From Clouds?


  • What are clouds made of?
  • external image clouds_0.jpg

Cloud in a Bottle Demonstration

What Kind of Clouds Are Up There?

Add the Following Terms to Your Science Notebook:

  • cirrus – high, wispy, white clouds with feathery edges, often made of ice crystals
  • cumulonimbus – tall, dense clouds, often seen in thunderstorms
  • cumulus – large, white, or gray cloud with a flat base and round, fluffy top
  • stratus – low, white, or gray clouds that cover large areas of the sky

What Causes Wind?

What Causes Wind?

external image windyty.png

Investigating the Jet Stream

Convection and Wind

The Coriolis Effect

The Hydrosphere and Atmosphere

Ocean Currents

Global Climate Change

Climate Change Video

Surviving Severe Weather - Project


Your task will be to become an expert in the field of a specific severe weather topic (thunderstorms, tornadoes, etc.). As an informed expert you will then teach this specific weather concept to the class in a creative way. You will be working in pairs or groups of three to research, prepare, and perform a presentation.
You will be given several questions that you must address within your presentation. These questions will guide the scope of both your research and your presentation

Beginning Investigations

In this project you will be taking on the role of a meteorologist. One of your jobs as a meteorologist is to inform the public about weather disturbances and help them make informed decisions regarding their safety in these situations. Your current job has you working in one of the following locations:
Weather Condition
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Blizzard/White Out
Port Hedland, Australia
Wichita, Kansas, USA
Bakersfield, California, USA
Hong Kong, China
Severe Thunderstorms
Dresden, Germany
Flooding. Flash floods
St. Moritz, Switzerland

Notice that each city has a particular weather phenomenon that occurs in its area. You will be assigned to research and report on one of these cities and its associated weather phenomenon.

The Research

In researching your phenomenon you will need to keep in mind how you, in your role as a meteorologist, will inform your audience about an impending weather disturbance and help them make informed decisions regarding their safety in this situation (since they all live in an area where this phenomenon may occur). Your recommendations may someday save one of your viewer’s lives. Keep in mind, that you will conduct research and gather information on your topic in order to complete both an individual report and a team presentation.

Individual Task

Each person in your team must answer all of the following questions individually.

  1. What is your phenomenon? Give a definition of your phenomenon that your viewers will understand.
  2. What is the latitude/longitude of your location?
  3. What is the climate of your location?
  4. What are some physical characteristics of your location? (i.e. terrain, mountains, etc - think geography!)
  5. What are the characteristics of this weather phenomenon? (what does it look like, how does it behave?)
  6. How does your phenomenon occur? This needs to be as detailed as possible. Explain any scientific vocabulary.
  7. What are the destructive powers of this type of phenomenon?
  8. How can we reduce damage resulting from this phenomenon?
  9. How does this form of weather affect us? Include the effects on humans, land, and business.
  10. Does this phenomenom have a season? If so, when is it?
  11. What safety steps should be taken when one encounters your phenomenon? List all preparations and precautions.
  12. What are some other interesting facts and statistics regarding your phenomenon?
  • Keep a bibliography as you visit different websites
Click here for a research worksheet

Internet Resources

You may use different resources to research your topic.
The following is a list of websites that you may visit:

Individual Task Responses

  • Use this form to respond to all of the questions above.

Group Presentation

Your group will be responsible for sharing with the rest of class how to survive their severe weather event. Each group may choose how they will present their information.
Some options are:
  • poster
  • pamphlet
  • video (PSA - Public Service Announcement)
  • slideshow
    • Google Presentation

What's Really Warming the Earth?

Key words
Definitions, facts, examples

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Review Prezi

Click here for a Fill-in-the-blank Study Guide to go along with the Prezi

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