Activity Overview: Weather is an important factor in human comfort. Who has wanted to trade a 100-degree, full sun scorcher for an overcast 75-degree day with a breeze for an outdoor sports tournament? Or hoping for a warm, sunny day at the beach instead of a thunderstorm?
The purpose of this activity is to practice taking measurements of weather information and to think about how they interact with human comfort in terms of cooling and heating. The activities can be adapted and tailored to the ages and skill sets of your students. Feel free to repeat the activity throughout the season or throughout the year as you discuss weather and climate in order to reinforce the concepts.
Materials: thermometer, paper or digital records to record temperature, rain gauge (optional)
Consider the following schedule for observing the weather qualities of your environment.
As a class, step outside and feel the temperature of the environment. Make sure to wear the appropriate outerwear for the conditions. Ask students to make a judgement on whether the weather is "hot," "cold," "cool," "warm," or somewhere in between. This is subjective, so there may or may not be consensus from the class. Ask the class to describe the other qualities of the weather, such as cloud cover, wind conditions, or precipitation. Record all of these observations and save them in a safe place for comparison later.
Alternatively, take the thermometer outside and measure the temperature of the environment. If raining, use the rain gauge to take a measurement of precipitation. Sometimes it isn't possible or realistic to measure rainfall with your class — don't get soaked! In that case, consult a weather report to find windspeed and rainfall information. Record all of these observations and save them in a safe place for comparison later.
For students familiar with graphing, ask student to plot the results using either digital or analog technology. To acquire enough data for a graphing exercise, you may want to consider repeating the activity every day for a week and then plotting the results, or waiting until then end of the year and then graphing the results. Alternatively, take historical records from weather information databases online or an almanac in order to produce a robust dataset for graphing.
Answers for this activity will vary greatly due to geography and any unique weather conditions in your region. If in doubt, focus on the process of observations, measurement, and recording.