QUESTION FOR KIDS: How does weather forecasting work?

Spring weather can be rainy, windy, warm or frosty, or all of these in the same week! It’s the perfect time to raise your eyes to the sky and appreciate the processes of nature that affect us every single day. By understanding how weather works, kids will build science skills they’ll use again and again: observing, measuring, predicting, and evaluating.

Materials for this activity:

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Follow this easy, step-by-step activity:

In this activity, kids will measure the variables that affect the weather. They’ll keep track of their data in order to make predictions.

  1. Go outside and observe the weather 2-3 times each day for a week or more, at about the same times each day.
  2. Use the Weather Golden Guide to read about data collection and weather predicting.
  3. Use the Mini Weather Station to get readings for temperature, wind speed and direction, atmospheric conditions, and rainfall.
  4. Write down your readings on this Daily Weather Observations Chart (PDF).
  5. After a week or so, look for trends in each of the categories. Predict what you think will happen tomorrow and write it down.
  6. Each day, check your predictions: were you right? Use what you’re learning to make a prediction for the next day.

Storm Clouds and Rainbow

A few tips to help you out:

  • “Atmospheric conditions” is a big term for simple weather descriptions like clear, cloudy, rainy, etc.
  • To discover trends, look at individual columns, such as Temperature High/Low. Is the low temperature getting warmer each day? Then,
    look at two columns of information together: is it warmer or cooler when it is cloudy, versus sunny?
  • Use graph paper to create a chart that visually shows the trends. Start by writing the days of the week and each day’s conditions along the
    bottom. Then mark each day’s high temperature above it, according to a scale from 0º to 100º (F) along the left side. Finally, draw a line between
    each day’s mark to form a graph.
  • Has your child started a science notebook yet? Their own science notebook gives them a specific place to keep and record their data, observations, predictions, and ideas.

Go Beyond the Activity

  • Once your child is comfortable recording temperature, wind speed and direction, atmospheric conditions, and rainfall (precipitation), start monitoring the other columns on the chart:
  • If it’s cold, use your Mini Weather Station to calculate wind chill.
  • Add the optional items: Use a psychrometer to measure humidity and
    a barometer to measure barometric pressure.
  • The optional Weather Golden Guide is a great little book for anyone interested in learning more about clouds, weather, and patterns.

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