Introduction to the Weather Unit
In this unit you will find a collection of ten or so hands-on weather activities that our students have enjoyed over the last five years. These activities are drawn from three main sources:
· Wild About Weather, one in a series of National Wildlife Federation’s Ranger Rick’s NatureScope booklets.
· The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) Teacher Resources website.
· Homemade lessons, likely stolen or borrowed from an uncredited innovator I haven’t been able to trace.
These lessons provide a flow of hands-on activities in a sequence roughly matching the introduction of concepts in the Prentice Hall Science text. Please see the timeline on the next page Also included are study questions for five reproducible readings in the Ranger Rick booklet.
We offer this unit in place of the text for few reasons:
· The activities are better developed than those in the textbook, with more detailed instructions for teacher and student, and better assessment activities.
· Students can carry reproducible readings home without loading up their backpacks with a heavy text.
If your class has an effective routine of working with the text, than by all means stick with it. Still, you may want to consider adding an activity or two from this list, especially schoolyard activities such as the “Wind Walk” or “Grass Under Glass”. Conversely, you can easily find text reading to supplement the activities we offer.
The real strength of the text can be found in its extensive illustrations. In the teacher resources box you will find a wonderful set of transparencies to use on an overhead projector. They can save you a lot time drawing illustrations on the board. Where they are valuable they are keyed to the activities in this unit.
Our main goal in collecting these activities and readings was to cover the State Science Standards relevant to the weather. We have omitted considerations of climate, that is, weather on an extended time scale, to avoid overloading the teaching year. Other goals high on our list were ease of preparing and teaching the lessons, and a happy classroom experience for the Oakland science student.
Beyond the lessons listed here, there is more fun to be had in the Ranger Rick weather book. “Fishy Forecasts (p. 40)” and “Weagevia (p. 57)” promote whole-class problem solving with impossible or extreme weather scenarios. If your emphasis is on literature and social science connections, the “Weather Master Myth (pp. 7-8)” activity can provide a gentle and creative introduction to more modern weather science.