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Elementary GLOBE Clouds Module

Becca Hatheway, Kerry Zarlengo, Peggy LeMone, Lisa Gardiner, Gary Ludwig, Lin Chambers, Debra Krumm, Jessica Taylor, Sandra Henderson, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

A suite of hands-on activities to give students the opportunity to describe the shape and appearance of clouds and learn the types of weather that are associated with clouds. The module includes outdoor observation, group work, and creative/artistic activities.

This series of three learning activities each take a minimum of 30 minutes. Additional materials are required.

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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • This activity draws heavily on vocabulary, but educators are encouraged to emphasize the deeper concepts and phenomena, not just the vocabulary words. For example, students could begin by lying outside and simply observing clouds.
  • A word wall could be one way to familiarize students with the new terminology.
  • The various activities are adaptable, and educators can select parts of this module to suit their needs.
  • The educator may wish to review the learning activity extensions prior to the learning activity.
  • There are also two coloring pages provided if the educator would like to utilize those.
  • A Teacher Implementation Guide is available.

About the Science

  • This series of activities and story book establishes an understanding of different cloud types, their names, relative height, and whether or not they produce precipitation.
  • In "Cloud Fun" students engage in identifying clouds, then they craft what they saw (this is analogous to the way scientists record observations).
  • In "Cloudscape" the connection between cloud types and weather is established while students create a mural-like poster with the different clouds and descriptions.
  • "To Spread or Not to Spread" is an activity that discusses contrails and includes the connection between human activities and their impact on climate and weather.
  • The contrails activity introduces a minor scientific misconception. In order to make short-lived contrails, students use a paint:water ratio that is high in water compared to the other contrail 'recipes.' But in the atmosphere, short-lived contrails are due to the lack of moisture in the atmosphere. The longer-lived contrails form in an environment with more water vapor in the atmosphere. But in the activity, the relationship between water and the persistence of the contrail is backwards. This is minor but worth mentioning.
  • There are several references to contribute to the GLOBE citizen science project.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • This module uses multiple modes of learning: reading, outdoor observation, making inferences, creating clouds from paper, painting, and making a collaborative mural.
  • There are several instances for observation and outdoor activity, along with indoor activities.
  • Extension activities and adaptations for younger or older students are provided.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Teacher resources are readily accessible through the URL, as are resources for extensions.
  • Presentation and class instruction can be by book or multimedia.
  • In the PDF version of the book, the images of clouds are on the page preceding the description. This may not be clear when viewing in the PDF file. In the Book's version of the storybook, the two-page spread makes it easy to see the connection between the pictures and the associated text.
  • There are five different language translations available (Arabic, French, German, Norwegian, and Spanish).

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