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NASA S'COOL Lesson: The Sky and the Dichotomous Key

Kara Houser, Kathy Gibbs, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Students use a Dichotomous Key to observe and identify cloud formations, and record and track changes in weather over time.

This learning activity takes 1 hour.

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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Despite several links being broken this resource can still be an effective hands-on activity.
  • There are several other activities on the S'COOL and NASA GLOBE websites that are related to these concepts.
  • At the bottom of the webpage there are teacher notes.
  • There is a connection to the citizen science project formerly called S'COOL but is now part of the NASA GLOBE Observer project.

About the Science

  • This activity has two main scientific topics: using a dichotomous key for identifying clouds and the relationship of clouds to temperature and pressure.
  • The dichotomous key is a widely used tool for many disciplines and using it for identifying clouds is a good way for young kids to familiarize themselves with that method.
  • Learning about clouds can lead to greater understandings of weather and climate patterns.
  • There are several extension activities that elaborate on different concepts including observing changes over time and participating in the citizen science projects.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • This activity establishes different ways to learn about clouds and how to identify them. It is a hands-on, nature-related activity that has several areas where the lesson can be extended.
  • The key is like a flow chart and may need some practice to understand especially for younger children.
  • There are several resources to assess the students as well as links to other related activities.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • There are several broken links; alternatives can be found with some searching.

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