Teaching About Weather

Science Article: Teaching about weather in the school classroom.

Teaching Weather

As teachers, you know weather refers to the state of the atmosphere. Atmosphere is a mixture of invisible gas molecules and dust, and has three layers. The layer closest to earth is the troposphere. The conditions we experience as weather take place mostly in the troposphere.

A region’s weather is not the same as climate. Every day weather changes according to such things as air temperature, wind and clouds. The climate, however, depends on its average year-round weather conditions.

Weather affects human conditions. On a warm sunny day, people wear lightweight clothing. When there is a storm or there are winds, people tend to seek shelter inside. Weather can affect what they eat and drink, too. During summer time, ice-cold drinks are more refreshing than coffee or hot chocolate.

Some basic facts about the weather:

Causes of Weather. The energy that causes weather changes comes from the sun. The sun warms the earth’s surface. In turn, the surface heats the air close to it. The amount of sunlight the surface receives affects the temperature, which defines the hotness and coldness of the air.

Why does weather not the same in all parts of the world? Because the earth is round, the sun warms the earth unevenly causing for sunrays to not hit the entire surface at the same angle. This causes different parts of the world to receive varying amounts of energy. The tilt of the Earth also adds to the uneven heating of its surface. The result of the tilt is the number of daylight hours varying throughout the year. This variation causes seasonal changes in temperature. When it is summer up north, it is winter in the Southern Hemisphere. Use visual presentations to explain this when necessary.

Differences in the Earth’s surface also affect the air temperature. Land absorbs and loses heat more quickly than water. In summer, the air near an ocean or any water body is usually cooler than the air over land. In winter, it is colder inland than in areas near water.

Tips and tools for teaching weather:

Devise a weather vocabulary. Sometimes students find it difficult to understand a whole new concept when there are new terms or definitions they can’t identify with. Start by listing down “big” words like air temperature, forecast, humidity, hurricane, barometer, thermometer, thunderstorm, and tornado, and then explain each of them one by one. Formulate ways to explain water cycle. The water cycle is easy to understand when it is described using simple words. If you need to draw or illustrate the process, do it. Children are always excited to experience different approaches of teaching. In this case, a slideshow presentation can be used.

Familiarize your students with weather maps. Weather maps tell about weather across the globe. They show temperatures, give us a view on areas where it is raining or snowing, and show the weather systems. These maps also show wind direction and speed, dew point, cloud types and other data. But for children, please make sure you don’t make it complicated so they can absorb all the information you are providing them. Giving your students an assignment of observing daily weather will help increase their understanding on this subject.

Weather can be easily taught to students by not making it complicated. Put in mind that you are dealing with young elementary kids who may have limited understanding on this topic. The key is to convey it through simple terms and illustrations.

Michael Mitchell is a former teacher and author. He has written widely on education and testing. Visit his website, Science Lessons for more information on <a href=http://www.science-lessons.ca/articles/teaching-weather.html>teaching the weather</a>

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