Lesson Plan

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

Analyze weather patterns and predict catastrophic storms
Donna M.
Classroom teacher
Vista Visions Academy
Vista, United States
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My Grades 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects Science, Health & Wellness

Students will be able to....

Use meteorologists' tools to analyze and interpret storm  data 

Collect evidence to explain changes in weather conditions.

Forecast future catastrophic weather events

All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

This activity connects what students know and have recently experienced about local weather to set the stage to learn about weather patterns and predictions. The Weather Underground website provides weather data, both current and historical, anywhere in the country.  Demonstrate how to navigate the website and help students create a data table if needed.

An alternative to using the website is to collect the weather page from the local newspaper and make copies for students to use.

Student Instructions

1. Go to Weather Underground http://www.wunderground.com

2. Click "More" and the "Historical Weather"

3. Enter your location and the dates you would like to record

Choose 5 days in a row of local weather within the last 2 weeks. Create a data table and record: (you may have to scroll down to "Hourly Weather History & Observations" to collect all of the data)

  • date
  • mean temperature
  • precipitation
  • air pressure
  • cloud cover
  • wind direction
  • wind speed

Be sure to get data for days that have ended. Do NOT include weather predicted for the future.

You may have to look at hourly data and summarize it for the day.

Abbreviations for wind direction include N for north , S for south, E for east and W for west. For example, NW would mean northwest.

2 Direct Instruction

The Cloud Lab 

In this lab, students can work through the Cloud Video Quizzes. either as whole class instruction or independent learning. Optionally, students can complete the first Challenge, Cloud Typing, which quizzes students on cloud types.

Coastal Winds and Clouds Gizmo (format is HTML 5 so is compatible with most devices)

On the ExploreLearning site, copy or link the student sheet (can be modified). This sheet will help students work through the simulation, from making observations to analyzing the data and drawing conclusions.

In the simulation, students observe daily weather conditions in a coastal region. They measure temperatures and wind speeds at a location of their choosing and use this data to map convection currents that form during the day and night. From this they explain the origin of land breezes and sea breezes.

3 Guided Practice

Students work through the next challenge, Inside a Megastorm. This activity uses the tools of a meteorologist to explain the data that is collected as a storm progresses.

If done as an in-class activity, I like to have students work in partners so they can discuss what they see.  Alternatively it can be assigned as homework in a blended/flipped classroom.

4 Independent Practice

Students work through the next challenge, Analysis and Reconstruction.  Students collect data on three tropical storms as they develop and then predict their path.

5 Evaluation

Free to try, Paid

The final challenge is Storm Prediction. Students determine what tools they will use and what data they will collect to measure, analyze and predict the path of the storm. they may use actual storms from the past or current storms if applicable.

Using Voki Classroom, students create a weather report about the storm they have just analyzed. Providing recordings of weather reports or assigning students to listen to a weather report on the news can be helpful. Using Voki allows students to write a script and record it, even using their cell phones, without the pressure of speaking in front of people. They can start over as many times as they wish to create a quality weather report.

6 Wrap-Up

To extend learning, additional videos are available in the video library on the Nova Lab site. Students can learn more about Clouds and Weather, Hurricane Rotation and the Coriolis Effect. They can "meet" scientists who study weather and they can "Join the Conversation ," by sharing research ideas, ask questions, and get up-to-date news about what's happening in the NOVA Labs community.