A study of weather and climate naturally lends itself to integration with mathematics, especially the data analysis strand. As students participate in hands-on experience with measuring and recording temperature, air pressure, humidity, and wind speed, they are collecting data that can be graphed and interpreted and lead to further questions and investigations. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Principles and Standards for School Mathematics include a Data Analysis and Probability standard at every grade level. The standard states that:
In prekindergarten through grade 2 all students should:
Pose questions and gather data about themselves and their surroundings
Sort and classify objects according to their attributes and organize data about the objects
Represent data using concrete objects, pictures, and graphs
In grades 3-5 all students should:
Design investigations to address a question and consider how data collection methods affect the nature of the data set
Collect data using observations, surveys, and experiments
Represent data using tables and graphs such as line plots, bar graphs, and line graphs
Recognize the differences in representing categorical and numerical data
We’ve highlighted lesson plans that incorporate data analysis into studies of weather at the K-2 and 3-5 grade levels. Lessons for K-2 involve an introduction to measurement and tools that can help measure weather data. Any analysis or recording should be done as a class, using symbols, pictographs, and concrete objects. In grades 3-5, students are ready for more sophisticated instruments and types of graphs. Students are also ready to work in small groups or independently when representing data in graphical form.
What Is It Like Outside Today? (Grades K-1)
Students learn to read a thermometer and color paper thermometers to show temperature. Students also begin to explore how a range of temperatures fit into each of the seasons.
Rain Rulers (Grades K-2)
Children will use tools to measure and record amounts of rainfall over a period of two weeks. This lesson introduces the concept and process of measurement to young students.
Measure Raindrop Sizes (Grades K-5)
In this activity (which requires advance preparation), students measure the size of raindrops with a simple and inexpensive tool. Students could track data and compare raindrop sizes during different storms. While the web site lists this as a lesson for K-2, it could be used with all elementary students.
Graphin’ and Glyphin’ Utah Weather (Grades 3-5)
Students use glyphs as a way to visually represent information about Utah weather. This lesson can be adapted for use in any state.
Graphing the Weather (Grades 3-5)
Students take weather readings using simple instruments and predict the weather in this lesson. They take and chart readings for a month during a season. With the information, they can graph what is happening with each instrument each day and use the data to show patterns the storms follow for that particular season.
Tracking Local Weather (Grades 3-5)
Students track temperature, wind, and rain data for one week, calculate averages, and graph data.
Create a Graph (Grades 3-5)
The National Center for Education Statistics created this online tool so that anyone can make area, bar, pie or line graphs and print them out or download the images to a computer or disk. Younger students will quickly learn the difference between the left X and Y axis when they need to create their own line graphs.
Copyright June 2008 – The Ohio State University. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0733024. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. This work is licensed under an Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons license.