Grade: Upper elementary (5) Time: 2 lessons of 50 minutes Objectives: Students will …

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Grade: Upper elementary (5)

Time: 2 lessons of 50 minutes
Objectives: Students will …

  • Define “weather”

  • Provide an example of a weather component

  • Describe how a weather component is measured

  • Identify weather instruments

  • Make a simple weather prediction


For each group

  • Anemometer

  • Mirror with 100 square grid overlay (made from transparency)

  • Thermometer

  • Barometer

  • Compass

For each student

  • Worksheet

Lesson 1

Go around the circle or room and ask students for their favorite weather or element of weather. Start by giving your favorite as an example. Discuss why it is the favorite – the way it makes you feel, favorite activities, etc.

Obviously, weather affects what humans do - that’s why most of us prefer one type or another. It also affects plants and animals in different ways. Today we’ll be figuring out what weather is, and learning how to take weather measurements and even predict the weather.

1. What is weather?
When I asked you what your favorite weather was, what went through your mind? What is weather?
Weather is the daily state of the atmosphere – what’s happening in the sky. It has several parts: temperature, precipitation, cloud cover, wind speed and direction, air pressure, and humidity. For each of these parts, we use a different instrument to measure it.

We use a thermometer (thermo=heat, meter=measure) to measure the temperature. In the U.S., we use Fahrenheit (o F), but scientifically, the measurement is Celsius (o C).

Demonstrate how to use a thermometer.

We use a rain gauge to measure rain. In the U.S. we use inches. Note: If the diameter of the collection container is the same diameter of the collection tube, then the inch on the tube will equal an inch on a ruler. If the collection area is larger than the diameter of the tube, the inch on the tube will be greater than an inch on a ruler. This is due to the change in area of the container. For example, if you distribute cheerios over a plate in a uniform layer an inch deep, if you pour them into a juice glass, the pile will be higher.

Demonstrate how to use a rain gauge.
Cloud cover

Cloud cover refers to the amount of sky that is covered by clouds. This is where the phrases partly cloudy/ partly sunny come from. Demonstrate how to measure cloud cover:

Hold the mirror facing towards the sky, with the grid sheet laid over it. Count how many of the squares are filled with clouds. Convert to %.


Wind speed is measured with an anemometer (anemo=wind, meter=measure). The cups on the anemometer are pushed by the wind. The faster it is blowing, the higher the brace moves up the handle.

Demonstrate how to use the anemometer.
Wind direction can be measured two ways:

  • A wind vane

  • Using a compass and a piece of light string tied to a pencil. Hold the compass face up, lined up with N. Place the pencil upright on the compass, and observe which way the string blows.

  • Using a mirror and compass, observe which way the clouds are moving.

Air Pressure

The barometer measures the local air pressure. The air pressure can help you determine if and how the weather will be changing.

Demonstrate using the barometer.

The sling psychrometer measures the relative humidity – how much moisture the air is holding compared to how much it can hold. It does this by comparing how much moisture evaporates from the wet bulb. If the relative humidity is high, if the air is almost full of water, then not much moisture will be able to leave the wet bulb. If the air is dry (low relative humidity), then a great deal of moisture can move from the wet bulb to the air. As water evaporates from the wet bulb, it cools it off.

Demonstrate how to use a sling psychrometer.


Have students review instruments – what they measure, how to use them.

Lesson 2


Review the instruments. Today students will be meteorologists – scientists that study weather.


1. Recording Data

Distribute worksheets to each student. Split the class into groups – each group should have one of each instrument. Have each group take measurements in a different spot outside – in the forest, near the building, in the field. Go over the directions and spaces on the worksheet with them as a class before sending them out to take measurements.

After 10 to 15 minutes, have students return to a central location where you can compare results and discuss. Which things were most variable? Temperature, wind, precipitation might change depending on where you took them. Why?
2. Making Predictions

Use the information gathered to complete the weather forecast area of the worksheet.


Ask students to watch the news in the evening to compare their forecasts with the professional weather person’s.

Weather Data


Using the instruments provided, please record the current weather conditions for your site.

Site 1
Air Temperature: o C
Wind Direction:

(always named for the direction from which it comes)

Wind Speed:
Cloud Cover: %
Barometric Pressure: inches

Site 2

Air Temperature: o C

Wind Direction:

(always named for the direction from which it comes)

Wind Speed:
Cloud Cover: %
Barometric pressure: inches

Compare your results with the results from the other site. If they are different, explain why.

Weather Forecasting

Using the chart below, make a prediction for the weather in the next 6 – 24 hours.


  • The lower the barometer the more severe the approaching weather will be.

  • The lower the barometer, the sooner the change will arrive.

Over the last 24 hours, has the barometric pressure (circle one):

Risen Fallen Held Steady

Wind Direction

the wind is coming from:

N to W

W to S

S to E

E to N


Clearing or continued clear

Clearing or continued clear

Fair or clear

Clear and cool


No Change

No Change

Rain within

12-24 hours or continued rain

No change for

12 - 24 hours


Change in 6 – 48 hours

Change in 6 – 12 hours



Rain soon

What is your forecast for the next 6 – 24 hours?

Weather Measurement


Hold the thermometer at arm’s length for 1 minute.

Read the temperature in Celsius degrees _________

Read the temperature in Fahrenheit degrees ________

Air Pressure

To what number on your barometer is the black arrow pointing? _________inches

Do not move the gold hand. Is the black arrow above or below the gold hand?

Below The air pressure is falling.

Above The air pressure is rising.

Cloud Cover

Hold the mirror flat in your hand, facing up so the sky is reflected. How many squares are filled with clouds? _________

Each square equals 1/100 of the mirror.

1/100 = 1%

What is the percent of sky covered in clouds? _________

Wind Direction

Put the compass flat on the mirror. Place them at your waist, pointing out from your body. Turn your body until the red pointer is in line with the N on the compass. This means that you are facing North. Which direction are the clouds reflected in the mirror moving? _________
What is the direction across the compass from this direction? _________

Example: North is directly across from South. This is the wind direction.

Wind Speed

What is the unit of measurement on your anemometer?

Miles per hour (mph) Meters per second (m/s)

Hold the anemometer Hold the anemometer

away from your body. away from your body.
Record the number to the left Record the number to the left

of the white ball. _________ mph of the top edge of the red bar.

_________ m/s

To convert miles per hour to

meters per second, multiply by .45
_______mph x .45 = _______m/s

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