Anchor Phenomenon Ideas: Engage students immediately by having them share their perfect weather day. You'll be amazed at the questions generated by this discussion! Share these cloudwise and weatherwise posters from NOAA or this image about windchill with students and use the authentic questions they come up with to make connections throughout your weather unit.
Make it Relevant: Kids love to talk about the weather! Ask students to share their favorite types of weather. you can collect class data and create a graph of favorites. Or, ask students to share their most memorable weather event: A big storm, lots of snow, freezing temperatures... the possibilities are endless.
Tips and Tricks: Students spend a lot of time creating models and making observations in this mini unit. Feel free to demonstrate one idea as a mini lesson to help kids get started on questions three through six. Then, students can replicate your model or test their own ideas. Here are some tips to get started:
To find evidence that air takes up space (question three), students can blow into a balloon and watch the balloon change shape. for a whole class demo, take a look at this experiment from the American Chemical Society.
To find evidence that air has mass, students often compare the mass of an empty balloon and the same balloon filled with air. Here is a video comparing the mass of a deflated basketball and the same basketball filled with air.
Creating density stackers with water takes some practice, especially for middle school students! For question four, you can demonstrate how hot water dyed red can stack on top of cold water dyed blue. Then, allow kids to try it on their own.
Make sure students attempt the air pressure demo for question number five over a sink! Most kids will be able to do it after a few attempts. Here is an example of a student diagram explaining the forces of gravity and air pressure.
This density tank video can give students an idea of what to model in question six. You can show the video to the whole class and discuss modifications kids can make based on available supplies.
Enrichment Ideas: Challenge kids to find the extreme weather records for your area. What are the record high and low temperatures, snowfalls and rainfalls for your city or state? When did these records occur and why did they occur? What other variables aligned to cause these extreme records?
Students can also explore JetStream - an online school for weather hosted by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and become weather experts!