Science Ambassador Blog: Weather and the Metric System: Tools for Teaching Success

Published on: April 1, 2019

Note: The Science Ambassador Blog will showcase articles by our NSSTA Science Ambassadors who attended the 2018 Reno NSTA Conference.  The following blog is by Region 1 Science Ambassador, Chrystaunia Duquette. 

Weather and the Metric System: Tools for Teaching Success

By: Chrystaunia Duquette


Would you like to your students to learn more about weather and how to relate to the metric system? When I attended the NSTA Conference in Reno, I made this a goal to attend sessions that would help me achieve just that. I lucked out and got some great resources! I attended a session called Wind! Water! Weather! presented by Ruth Rudd. She and Juliana Texley wrote a great presentation that was loaded with resources on making meaning of this complex Earth Science concept. One of my key takeaways from the session was a lesson about Dew & Frost. She suggested using recycled soup cans. The procedure is to fill the cans with water and have the students use a thermometer and record the temperature in Celsius and Fahrenheit. Then the students will add ice cubes to the cans and make another temperature recording. The great thing about this experiment is that after the ice cubes have set in the can for awhile, condensation starts to form on the outside of the can. This is a simple but effective way to create condensation in the desert!

Another session that I attended, was presented by the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The National Weather Service has on online resource called JetStream with over 30 lesson plans that teach students about weather using the metric system as well as U.S. Customary measurement. In the Las Vegas area, the NOAA will come out and teach lessons about weather, bring key weather instruments, and explain how they are used. A teacher can also request that a weather station be set-up at the school and can be monitored by students.

The most important way for children to find meaning with the metric system is to simply imbed it within lessons. Keeping a weather chart in the classroom using both systems, will allow students to gain a deeper understanding of the relationship with the U.S. system versus the Metric System. This should be done starting in Kindergarten. The NGSS Performance Expectation K-ESS2-1 states that a student should be able to share observations of weather patterns over time.

Another great resource that I found is the Kids’ Crossing website, maintained by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The goal of the website is to better understand Earth’s atmosphere and how weather and climate affect the Earth. There are science content lesson plans related to the water cycle, dangerous and extreme weather, climate and global change, and atmosphere.

The NSTA has a huge inventory of literature that can be used to help supplement and enhance teaching about weather. There are numerous titles by Vicki Cobb. Another book called Raindrops Roll , by April Pulley Sayer, could be an excellent resource to enhance the condensation lesson mentioned above.

Another great resource is On the Same Day in March: A Tour of the World’s Weather. In this book, students can be whisked around the world to explore the weather in different places around the world. To create a cross curricular lesson, students could use a world map, find/locate the different places mentioned in the book. Then they could record the temperatures for the different cities. Students can discuss the equator and the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. They will be able to see how the temperatures vary around the world. Next, the students could pick a one of the countries and research the weather during the different seasons over one year.  Weather Underground is a great website that could help in the research. Students would type in their location and look at the historical data for the last year. Students could have access to weather data in Fahrenheit and Celsius, which would enrich students’ understanding of the two recording systems.

There are so many resources that I learned about by attending the NSTA Reno conference. Implementing some or all of these resources in the science classroom will help students gain a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the metric system and climate.


Related Websites for Teaching Weather (3-5) (K-2)

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