In this lesson students will learn about the basic meteorological instruments (thermometer, barometer, weather vane, anemometer, and rain gauge), how they are used, data that can be collected from them, and why we keep records of the data.
- Weather, Science Alive; ISBN 0-7787-0611-7
- Forecasting and Weather Instruments DVD, UNITED LEARNING, 2001
Background for Teachers
For students to predict the weather they need to know the simple
weather patterns. To know the simple weather patterns they need to
know the simple instruments used by meteorologists that measure the
elements of weather. These simple instruments that 4th graders need
to know are the thermometer, barometer, weather vane, anemometer,
and rain gauge. When the students have learned the identity of these
instruments, they need to know how they work and how to interpret
the information they have gathered. In this lesson you will learn how
to teach what these instruments are, how they are used, data that
can be collected from the use of these instruments, and why we keep
records of the data. Later in another lesson we will interpret the data.
Intended Learning Outcomes
3. Understand Science Concepts and Principles.
Invitation to Learn
Make about six groups with four students in each group. Pass
out pictures of the rain gauge, barometer, thermometer, anemometer,
weather vane, and ruler (or the real articles if you have enough) to
each group. These pictures shouldn't have the name of the instruments
on them. (If possible, have a real sample of each of the weather
instruments that the students have pictures of.) Tell the
students that these are some of the weather instruments meteorologists
use to find out what the current weather conditions are.
Without telling the name of the instruments show the real
instruments to them one by one. Pass out cards that tell the
names of each weather instrument. Give the groups time to put the
name of the weather instruments with the pictures of the weather
instruments. When they are done see if they have correctly matched
the names with the instruments.
At this time you can see if any of the students know how these
instruments measure the weather elements. As they tell about
each one, pass out the card that tells about that particular weather
instrument and its use. Elaborate on what the student has stated
about the instrument. Do this until all the instruments have been
talked about. Tell the class that these are the basic instruments that
meteorologists use to tell us what the past weather was and what the
current weather is now.
Tell the students that today they are going to learn more about
these weather instruments and how meteorologists use them by
watching a weather newscast from a local TV station.
- Have the students get out their journals and tell them they
are going to take notes of what they see in the local weather
broadcast. Tell them to look for the instruments they use, the
order they present the information, and what is the final idea
they want to present to us. Right now, we are not interested in
the numbers they show, just the type of information they are
- Show a clip of a 10:00 p.m. weather broadcast from a local news
- Have the class members write down what the meteorologist
showed as part of his/her weather presentation.
- They may write:
- The current day's past statistics (kind of precipitation, amount
of precipitation, air temperature--highs and lows, and wind
- The present conditions (kind of precipitation, air temperature,
wind direction, wind speed, cloud cover, and air pressure--
rising, dropping, or stable).
- What tomorrow's weather is going to be (kind of precipitation,
amount of precipitation, air temperature--highs and lows,
wind speed, wind direction, and cloud cover).
- Discuss what they observed about the weather broadcast.
- Pass out the worksheet What Did The Meteorologist Say To Us?
- Ask the students, "How did the meteorologist know what
the past weather conditions were? (They used the weather
instruments we talked about.)
- Ask the students, "How did the meteorologist know what the
present weather conditions were? (They used the weather
instruments we talked about.)
- Ask the students, "What are the instruments he used to tell
us about the weather of the day?" (The rain gauge or ruler,
thermometer, anemometer, and others they may name.)
- Ask the students, "Why are these weather instruments
important?" (They tell us what the past weather was and what
the present weather is.)
- Ask the students, "Why is it important to us to know what the
present weather is?" (We know what we need to wear to be
comfortable out in the weather.)
- Ask the students, "Why do you think it is important that we
keep track of the weather and record it day by day?" (Some will
give guesses to this question, but the students may not directly
know this answer. You may want to help them along with more
questioning to get to the right answer.)
- When they can't answer it totally correct, tell the students
that meteorologists use the past weather data to watch for
patterns. They watch the patterns of the temperature, wind
direction, wind speed, the kind of precipitation, the amount of precipitation, and the barometric pressure and make weather
- Ask the students, "Are there other instruments the
meteorologist used for presenting the weather to us?" (Yes, he
used satellite pictures.)
- Tell the students they are going to learn about weather patterns
by keeping a record of the basic elements of weather by using
these tools we have talked about.
- Advanced learners can do some research on these instruments.
- Advanced learners can do some presentations on these
instruments in depth during the presentation or after the
- Learners of special needs should be able to physically touch
the weather instruments and match them to the pictures. They
will need special help in the group to match the names with the
- Have the students make the weather instruments in class.
- Have the students read more about the instruments they have
- Send the pictures of the weather instruments home with
the students to explain to their families what each of the
instruments are and how they are used to find out what the
current weather is.
- If the students made some of the instruments in school, send
them home to show and explain their families about the
weather instruments. Have them use them at home.
- Give an assignment to the students to watch a weather report
on any of the channels to reinforce what they learned in school.
Have them take notes on what the weather is going to be the
next day and see if it is correct the following day.
- Look in their journals to see if they took good notes on the
weather forecast segment that they viewed. They needed to have
written the three parts that a meteorologist presents--present
date's past statistics, the current conditions, and the forecast.
They should have written down the instruments they used
during the weather broadcast.
- Look at the worksheet the students answered during the
- Test the students if they know the weather instruments by using
the pictures and the words of the pictures to match them up.
- Have the students write what the uses of the instruments are.
- Have the students tell why the information that is recorded by
these instruments is helpful.
Myhill, D. (2006). Talk, talk, talk: teaching and learning in whole class discourse. Research
Papers in Education, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 19-41
It is important that teachers don't take up too much of student
learning time by talking; that limits opportunities for pupil learning.
Teachers are encouraged to only take up about 15 minutes of whole
class time. Teachers are encouraged to use questions for student
interaction with each other for discussion and discovery. The teacher
only acts as a facilitator during the student learning time. Teachers are
also encouraged to have students work in groups to learn from each other.
Enfield, M. (2007). Discussion maps make sense. Science and Children, Vol. 44, No. 5, pp. 46-49.
Discussions can be useful for teachers in evaluating students' ideas.
They offer windows for teachers to help understand student thinking.
Through discussions, students can express their ideas. Some students
feel more comfortable during a discussion than during any other
school task. The "discussion map" lets a teacher gain insight into the
students' level of participation and helps the teacher get an idea if the
student understands the concept taught.