Fermilab LInC

Weather...or...Weather Not?


Student Pages
Index of Projects

Subject:    Science (with mathematics, language arts, and social studies integration)

Grade Level:    Fourth


This project provides opportunities for students to collect, measure, and analyze weather data.  Working in cooperative learning groups students will generate forecasts and predictions.  Groups will use appropriate technology to obtain data and will produce a video segment on the weather for their school's closed circuit "morning show."  A school-home connection will be the development of a severe weather emergency plan.

Learner Description/Environment:

Sheridan Elementary School is a Title-I eligible school serving 480 students in grades K - 4.  It is located in the small town of Orangeburg (population 45,000) in central South Carolina.  The students involved will be those enrolled in the fourth grade classes.  The fourth grade classes are housed in self-contained classrooms and have the same teacher for all academic subjects.  Demographically the student population is 70% African American and 30% Caucasian.  Eighty-five per cent of the students qualify for free or reduced price lunches.

Time Frame:  4 weeks;  5 hours per week

Learner Outcomes:

Science Outcomes

Math Outcomes

Social Studies Outcomes

Language Arts Outcomes

Structure of Learning:


There is a weekly in-school news show broadcast from the media center to all the classrooms in the school.  There is news, and even morning exercise, but no weather report. The principal wants to expand the show to include a weather segment. He has asked the fourth graders produce the segment to include local and national recaps of the weather for the past week and predictions for the week to come.
The principal has asked the fourth grade students to produce and "star" in the weekly weather segment for the closed-circuit school video update.  Because of concern that the students at the school and their families be prepared for severe weather conditions, he has asked that each report include information related to this and that the students develop safety plans for their families.


The class will brainstorm to determine what elements their weather segment should include and what possible sources exist for obtaining weather data.  They will also brainstorm to determine what must be done to effectively communicate weather information to other students and to provide their families with severe weather safety plans.  After the class has brainstormed, the student-generated ideas will be grouped into four categories.  These categories will serve as the focus for four student work groups or teams.  The responsibilities of the teams might be identified as:  Local Meteorologists (gathering, analyzing, and displaying local data);  On-Line Meteorologists (gathering data and images from on-line sources);  Storm Team ( researching and developing severe weather plan);  and Production Team ( coordinating and producing the broadcast).  The team roles will rotate each week.  In the course of the month-long project, each student will have the opportunity to be on each of the teams.  At the end of the month, the project will move to another fourth grade classroom.


The students will produce the video segments, the severe weather safety plan for their homes, and, if time permits, a weather web page.  The importance of these products will be an increased awareness of the world around them, in particular, the weather and how it can affect their daily lives.  The safety plan will enable the students and their families to be prepared when there is a threat of severe weather.

Best Use of Technology:

An option will be a field trip to the National Weather Service, Regional Climate Centers, NOAA facilities, television stations, or other places where weather data is recorded and interpreted.  Classes in other regions of the state and country that might be interested in sharing data via e-mail will be contacted.  These classes will be identified through the teachers that have participated in the on-line DataStreme course.


There will be a pre and post assessment of content knowledge.   The teacher will use a rubric to assess the effectiveness of the collaborative groups.  Groups will also self-assess their effectiveness using the same rubric.  This rubric will be shared with students at the beginning of the project.  Each student will keep a science journal in which he/she records daily.  These journals will be reviewed by the teacher to assure that progress is being made and to identify areas where assistance might be needed.  A task specific rubric will be designed and used with each of the four teams.  In addition, the production team will also have the opportunity to create and critique practice tapes.

Project Evaluation:

The quality of the products produced and the mastery of the science content will be a measure of the effectiveness of the project.  The fourth grade teachers will meet as a grade-level group to discuss the progress each week.  (LInC On-Line administrators will also participate.)   The teacher whose class is involved in the weather project will share what is working well and what aspects may need adjustments.  Since the project will be repeated for several different classes, iterations will be made to improve it each time.

Alignment with the Standards:

The student outcomes listed above are taken directly from the fourth grade Curriculum Standards for South Carolina students.  These Standards can be found on line at the South Carolina Department of Education web site.  Since the South Carolina Science Standards were developed from the  National Science Education Standards , these learner outcomes also correlate closely with the National Standards.

Images from www.arttoday.com

Created for the Fermilab LInC program sponsored by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Education Office and Friends of Fermilab, and
funded by United States Department of Energy, Illinois State Board of Education, North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium which is operated by North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), and the National Science Foundation.

Authors: Wanda McMichael, Linda Payne, and Emmie Thirlwell
School: Sheridan Elementary, Orangeburg Consolidated School District #5, Bamberg-Calhoun-Orangeburg Math/Science Hub
Created: February 25, 2001 - Updated: April 17, 2001
URL: http://www-ed.fnal.gov/lincon/w01/projects/weather/wpresent3.html