The Weather Report

Purpose:

To relate science to the world outside of school and use data management to communicate the results of an investigation.

Time:

2 class periods, about 50 minutes
10 minutes a day for a five-day period to gather additional data for graphing

Materials:

  • Outdoor thermometer
  • Daily weather forecast from the newspaper
  • Graphing paper

Teacher Note:

Weather forecasts are an important part of a daily newspaper. While radio and television news reports make frequent reference to the weather, a written report offers a comprehensive look not only at local forecasts, but weather patterns around the world. Maps often include details such as the location of the Jet Stream and warm and cold fronts. Forecasts also report on air quality and UV rays, they look at the amount of sunshine and rain occurring each month and tell readers the time the sun and moon will rise and set.

You can use this lesson to introduce a unit on weather, or as a hands-on activity to support the study of climate and weather patterns. Before the lesson begins, look on newspaper websites for stories on hospitalization and deaths related to air quality, the concerns about the increase in skin cancer and how too much, or too little rain impacts agriculture. Make copies of the stories for class discussions.

The Lesson:

  1. Distribute copies of the weather report from a daily newspaper. This should be a current newspaper. Copies of the weather report should be kept for the duration of this project.
  2. In whole group read the forecast – discuss what a daily high and low mean. Look at a three and/or five-day forecast. Ask students how they think a meteorologist might be able to predict a weather pattern. Why is it helpful to know what the weather will be? If the report includes air quality and a UV index, lead a discussion on why this information is now considered vital to Canadians.
  3. Distribute graph paper. Tell students they are going to become weather forecasters. The first step is to create two bar graphs (or a double bar graph). One graph will be used to record the temperature reported in the newspaper. The second graph will record temperatures outside of the school. Temperature readings should be taken in the same location each day. A five-day forecast is the recommended minimum for recording purposes.
  4. Students should also make note of the cloud cover (types of cloud) and winds (direction using a wind sock) in their weather report.
  5. At the end of the recording period have students compare their results with the published reports in the report in the newspaper. Students write a concluding statement about what they observed compared to the published report. If there are significant differences, ask what variables might cause the temperatures to vary (urban verses rural location, proximity to large bodies of water.)

Evaluation:

  • Collect the graphs and check that data has been recorded neatly and accurately.
  • Read the concluding statements and check for understanding of key concepts.