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Weather is an important part of our lives and one that we cannot control. Instead, it often controls how and where we live, what we do, what we wear and what we eat. In the following activities, the students explore meteorology by creating their own weather conditions and measurement tools in the classroom.
If weather were a recipe, the key ingredients would be solar radiation and water; and the atmosphere would be the large mixing bowl. Heat from the sun causes water to evaporate and rise up into the atmosphere. As it cools in the atmosphere, water condenses back into a liquid (clouds), then precipitates.
What’s the difference between “weather” and “climate”? Weather is the state of the atmosphere at a particular time and place. Daily changes in the weather are driven by differences in temperature, moisture and air pressure. Climate refers to the prevailing weather trends and typical conditions over a long period of time. People who study weather have a different occupation title than those that study climate:
To understand weather we need to understand the properties of air and our atmosphere. It is changes in air pressure that create the weather we experience.
Even though air is invisible it’s made up of a lot of stuff (gas molecules & particulates) and it has weight. The force of gravity pulling air towards the Earth generates atmospheric pressure. Atmospheric pressure depends on the amount of air above the location where the measurement is taken, and so while atmospheric pressure is 1kg per square centimeter at sea level, it drops as you go higher. Changes in air pressure create wind and affect the evaporation and condensation rates of water—condensation that creates the fog, clouds, rain, snow, hail and sleet that affect our daily lives.
Air Pressure: The weight of air pressing down on earth.
Atmosphere: A layer of gases surrounding a planet. The Earth’s atmosphere is dividedinto five layers: exosphere, thermosphere, mesosphere, stratosphere, and troposphere.
Barometer: An instrument that measures air pressure.
Barometric Pressure: Air pressure indicated by a barometer.
Clouds: A visible collection of tiny water droplets or ice crystals suspended above the Earth’s surface.
Condensation: The change of water vapour to liquid water. The opposite of evaporation.
Convection: Motions in a fluid that transport and mix the properties of the fluid.
Evaporation: The process of changing a liquid (like water) to a vapour. The opposite of condensation.
Fog: Cloud cover that contacts the ground. A reported weather condition which reduces visibility.
Humidity: The amount of water vapour (gaseous state) in the air.
Hygrometer: An instrument that measures the water vapour content of air or the humidity.
Meteorologist: A scientist who studies and predicts the weather.
Meteorology: The study of the atmosphere that focuses on weather processes and forecasting.
Precipitation: Water in any form falling from clouds. This includes rain, hail and snow.
Relative Humidity: The ratio of water vapour contained in the air compared to the maximum amount of moisture that the air can hold at that specific temperature and pressure.
Smog: Visible air pollution in urban areas.
Unstable Air: Air that is warmer than its surroundings and tends to rise, leading to the formation of clouds and precipitation.
» About.com | Education | Temperature inversion layers
» Mrs. Simcox | Global Warming Lessons | Temperature inversion
» Royal Meteorological Society | Humidity – the story for teachers
» Exploratorium | Hair Hygrometer
» Scientific American | Hairy Science | Measuring humidity with a hair hygrometer
» Nick Walker The “Weather Dude” | What makes rain
» KidZone Science | The water cycle
» University of Victoria | Wolff-Michael Roth | Water cycle
» Paul G. Hewitt, John Suchocki, Leslie A. Hewitt | Conceptual Physical Science | 1994 | HarperCollins College Publishers
» Steve Spangler Science | Density | Cloud in a bottle
» Weather Wiz Kids | Experiments | Cloud in a bottle
» TLC | Family | Science projects for kids: weather and seasons | Foggy notions
» Weather Wiz Kids | Wind
» Spoonful | Create | Wind socks
» Weather Wiz Kids | Tornado in a bottle
» Steve Spangler Science | Weather | Tornado in a bottle
» Weather Wiz Kids | Tornadoes
» Pitara Kids Network | Discover | Tornadoes
» Kidipede | Physics | Weather | Tornadoes
» Discover Channel | Weather extreme: tornado
» Science World Resources | Air
» Science World Resources | Water | Water Savers
» Science World Resources | Habitats | Rainforests
» Weather Wiz Kids
» National Geographic Kids | Forces of nature: weather 101
» Environment Canada | Weather and Meteorology | Sky Watchers
» Environment Canada | Air quality health index
» Scholastic | Teachers | Weather watch
» Scholastic | Kids | Interactive weather maker
» CanTeach | Weather songs & poems
» Catalyst for Science | Weather
» UK Met Office teacher resources
» The Weather Channel Kids
» Weather Visualizer | WindyTY