Jump to this Activity »
Differences Between Climate and Weather
http://eo.ucar.edu/educators/ClimateDiscovery/LIA_lesson1_9.28.05.pdf

National Center for Atmospheric Research

In this activity, students collect weather data over several days or weeks, graph temperature data, and compare the temperature data collected with long-term climate averages from where they live. Understanding the difference between weather and climate and interpreting local weather data are important first steps to understanding larger-scale global climate changes.

Activity takes about three class periods and daily measurements throughout a school year. Some additional graphing and measuring materials are needed.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 4 Cross Cutting Concepts, 11 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Climate is not the same thing as weather – defining difference
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4b

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:A) Processes that shape the Earth
Other materials addressing:
A) Processes that shape the Earth.

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Student groups need to be motivated to do the measurements correctly and reliably over the defined period.
  • Students need to collect data in a consistent manner each day (approximately the same time and place) to get the best results.
  • Students (or teacher) could make up their own data collection sheet allowing them to decide what climate variables they want to record.
  • Depending on teacher's background or comfort level with the science, this activity may require a significant amount of advanced preparation.

About the Science

  • Very well-organized field-based activity that engages students in collection of weather data, graphing of the data, researching climate data and understanding the differences between weather and climate.
  • Teacher may want to specify that the official definition of climate is weather averaged over a 30-year period.

About the Pedagogy

  • Three class periods (of 45 min) to prepare students, plus time for taking measurements.
  • Very flexible activity that lists different ways of how activity can be incorporated in lessons, varied assessment strategies, and good background information for the teachers.
  • Data collection, graphing the results, and discussion will engage students of different learning styles.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • A well-organized and complete resource for students and teachers.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

MS-ESS2.D1:Weather and climate are influenced by interactions involving sunlight, the ocean, the atmosphere, ice, landforms, and living things. These interactions vary with latitude, altitude, and local and regional geography, all of which can affect oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns.

MS-ESS2.D2:Because these patterns are so complex, weather can only be predicted probabilistically.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 4

Energy and Matter, Patterns, Scale, Proportion and Quantity

MS-C1.2: Patterns in rates of change and other numerical relationships can provide information about natural and human designed systems

MS-C1.4:Graphs, charts, and images can be used to identify patterns in data.

MS-C3.4:Scientific relationships can be represented through the use of algebraic expressions and equations.

MS-C5.3:Energy may take different forms (e.g. energy in fields, thermal energy, energy of motion).

Science and Engineering Practices: 11

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Engaging in Argument from Evidence, Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information, Asking Questions and Defining Problems

MS-P1.6:Ask questions that can be investigated within the scope of the classroom, outdoor environment, and museums and other public facilities with available resources and, when appropriate, frame a hypothesis based on observations and scientific principles.

MS-P3.2:Conduct an investigation and/or evaluate and/or revise the experimental design to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence that meet the goals of the investigation

MS-P4.1:Construct, analyze, and/or interpret graphical displays of data and/or large data sets to identify linear and nonlinear relationships.

MS-P4.2:Use graphical displays (e.g., maps, charts, graphs, and/or tables) of large data sets to identify temporal and spatial relationships.

MS-P4.5:Apply concepts of statistics and probability (including mean, median, mode, and variability) to analyze and characterize data, using digital tools when feasible.

MS-P4.6:Consider limitations of data analysis (e.g., measurement error), and/or seek to improve precision and accuracy of data with better technological tools and methods (e.g., multiple trials).

MS-P5.4:Apply mathematical concepts and/or processes (e.g., ratio, rate, percent, basic operations, simple algebra) to scientific and engineering questions and problems.

MS-P5.5:Use digital tools and/or mathematical concepts and arguments to test and compare proposed solutions to an engineering design problem.

MS-P6.3:Construct a scientific explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from sources (including the students’ own experiments) and the assumption that theories and laws that describe the natural world operate today as they did in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

MS-P7.2:Respectfully provide and receive critiques about one’s explanations, procedures, models, and questions by citing relevant evidence and posing and responding to questions that elicit pertinent elaboration and detail.

MS-P8.2:Integrate qualitative and/or quantitative scientific and/or technical information in written text with that contained in media and visual displays to clarify claims and findings.


Jump to this Activity »