Weather or Not


Lisa Wolfelsperger

Alpine School, New Jersey

Summer Research Program for Science Teachers

August 2010



Subject:  General Science

Grade Level: 6th

Unit: Weather


  1. SWBAT work cooperatively with classmates to create different weather instruments.
  2. SWBAT learn to use different instruments to report wind direction, air pressure, rainfall, and temperature.
  3. SWBAT compare/contrast weather data.


Vocabulary: anemometer, barometer, thermometer, rain gauge, wind vane, psychrometer


Materials: See materials and directions to build instruments at:

Internet access

Computer with Microsoft Word and Excel


Background: The following website has information on weather instruments and scales:



  1. Engage – Watch a video clip of a weather forecast.  Ask students:  How do meteorologists get the weather data that you see on the forecast?  What instruments might they use?  How do you think they work?
  2. Divide class into groups of 3. 
  3. Assign each group an instrument to construct.  Provide them with the instructions and the materials. (If a group finishes early, they may choose another instrument to make).
  4. Have each group describe the instrument that they were assigned to build and tell how it works.
  5. Set up the weather station outside.
  6. Explain to the students that they will record the data from their weather station for the next five days.
  7. Discussion – How accurate do you think your instruments will be?  If the answer is “not very”, then why?  Why is it important to get accurate measurements?
  8. At the end of five days, have students go to (if you have the Onset Weather Station.  Otherwise, go to or ).  Collect the same data from the weather station for those five days.
  9. Compare and contrast the data.  How accurate were your instruments?  What could have been a variable?


  1. How could you make a more accurate instrument?  Choose one of the weather instruments and design a new and improved version.  Sketch the instrument and write a paragraph explaining how it would work.
  2. Make predictions about the weather for the next week.

  1. Invite a local forecaster to the school.
  2. Weather related videos (Bill Nye the Science Guy, Discovery).
  3. Math – Use weather station data and choose two.  Graph them against one another and look at relationships ( i.e. temperature and pressure).
  4. Language Literacy – Investigate weather folklore.  Select and research a saying, such as “Ring around the moon, ‘twill rain soon”.  Is it accurate in predicting the weather?  Explain.
  5. Art – Use cotton balls to represent different types of clouds and their altitude.
  6. Geography – Track a hurricane.


National Standard 10;  Indicator 4 – Collect and record weather data to identify existing weather conditions, and recognize how those conditions affect our daily lives.