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The Difference Between Weather and Climate

Wisconsin Educational Communications Board, Teachers' Domain

This video features University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher John Magnuson, who studies the ecology of freshwater systems. He explains the difference between weather and climate using data on ice cover from Lake Mendota in Madison, WI. Analysis of the data indicates a long-term trend that can be connected to climate change.

Video length: 2:44 minutes.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Definition of climate and climatic regions
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4a
Climate is not the same thing as weather – defining difference
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4b
Observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5b

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

  • The video focuses on Wisconsin. The teacher should consider incorporating local examples into their lesson that uses the video.
  • Citizen science projects like Project Budburst or Pikanet or CoCORAHS are very good examples of how students can get involved in doing research and contribute actual data to databases like those referred to in the video.

About the Science

  • Video combines footage of actual measurements, instruments, interviews, data, results and some landscape shots.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Uses real data to convey the message–I think that the graph that shows the variation in ice cover with the trend is helpful and can be a quite powerful visual aid.
  • The provided teaching tips are great.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • Examples that are used to illustrate the difference between climate and weather are very intuitive.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Resolution of the video is very low. It would be difficult to use effectively showing to an entire class. Students should view individually.

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