As part of your middle school geography lesson plans, make a homemade weather station.
Do you live in a place where the sun is usually shining, or do you see more days filled with clouds and rain?
Does the average temperature change drastically between winter and summer in your backyard?
Although it might be a little easier to check the local news channel to figure out if we need to take an umbrella with us when we head out in the afternoon, we decided it would be more fun to take matters into our own hands and learn about weather by creating our own homemade weather station!
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What’s the Difference Between Weather and Climate?
If you turn on the morning news or step outdoors to figure out what to wear today, you are probably trying to understand the “weather” for your area.
WEATHER is the day-to-day conditions for the atmosphere, including temperature, rain, and wind. It can be measured in hours, days, or weeks.
However, if you are trying to figure what time of year you will usually put away your shorts and start wearing sweaters, you are most likely concerned with the “climate” for your area.
CLIMATE is the long-term average weather in any given location. It can be measured in months, seasons, and years.
We decided that a great place to start learning about weather and climate was in our own backyard! It was a fun outdoor geography activity.
Scientists use complicated tools to collect and analyze weather data, but as we learned in our North Star Geography lesson, we can make pretty basic homemade versions of these tools to measure temperature, wind, and air pressure and then record our findings.
Homemade Weather Station Tools
We selected 4 simple weather instruments for our personal weather station:
Wind Vane – to measure wind direction
Barometer – to measure atmospheric pressure
Rain Gauge – to measure precipitation
Thermometer – to measure temperature (NOTE – this activity will demonstrate HOW a thermometer works, but it will not accurately measure the temperature outside. To gather data for your records you will need to use a regular outdoor thermometer.)
To gather and track our data, we created a Weather Station Data Log Printable, which includes the date, temperature, precipitation, sky conditions, etc.
Grab it here.
Analyzing Your Weather Data
Using the Weather Station Data Log, gather and record your backyard weather data for 2 weeks, preferably at the same time every day.
This would make an excellent summer science experiment for middle school!
At the end of your data collection period, look at the data and consider the following questions:
- What was the highest temperature you recorded?
- What was the lowest temperature you recorded?
- What was the average temperature during this period?
- How many days did you record precipitation?
- What was the highest amount of precipitation recorded in one day?
Additional activity ideas:
- Repeat your backyard weather tracking for the first 2 weeks of each month for 3 consecutive months. What differences did you notice in your data from month to month?
- Using your Weather Station Data Log and a weather forecasting/tracking website, gather weather data for another city. Compare the data collected from the other city to the weather in your hometown — how is it the same and how is it different? Some helpful websites include:
- Spend time working on hands-on activities to help your tweens study weather and climate.
- View weather webcams from other cities to see up-to-the-minute reports of weather conditions all around the world!
What is the weather like in your backyard today?