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The basis of meteorology as a physical science will be investigated during this course. Many facets that compose the complicated story of weather will be studied including temperature measurements, air flow, pressure, density, elements of the atmosphere, heat transfer and radiation, greenhouse effect, ozone layer, humidity, atmospheric optics, and much more. Satellite and weather maps will be studied. Whenever possible, laboratory experiments will be done to demonstrate weather phenomena and concepts. Weather information via the internet and the World Wide Web will be presented.



Each student will be expected to purchase a reading booklet at the time of registration or at the first class. This booklet will contain material that should be read before the beginning of the second class. For our typical course, there are two full eight hour days of classes, although other schedules are possible. There must be several days between the two full day classes to allow a project to be completed.

Between the two classes, each student is required to research and build a project having to do with meteorology. The primary consideration is your understanding of the project, your ingenuity in producing it, and your description of how other teachers could also use it. A short typed description (perhaps only 2-3 pages) must be handed in giving resource material, instructions for building and using the item. A short discussion of how this project might be useful in the classroom would be appropriate. Also during the second class you will give a short (5-8 minutes) presentation to the class. A list of possible projects is given in the booklet, but each student is expected to do further research to improve on the ideas presented here. Do not just copy what is given here. Try to improve it.



Because this is a graduate level class, only passing grades of A and B (with + and - possible) are given. A C grade is failing. It is also possible to audit the class, but ALL the work must be completed, including the project. Grades will be primarily assigned by the local adjunct professor and will depend on class attendance and participation as well as the presentation of the homework project. This presentation includes the oral one before the class as well as the document handed in describing the project. See the discussion above in Assignments.


Reading booklet:

A reading booklet will be prepared for class members that includes useful information on meteorology as well as teacher applications. This booklet will be available at the first class.


Instructor Contact:

Contact the local adjunct professor during the first class for her/his address and office hours. Professor Thornton may be contacted as described on the previous page. He will try to respond and will inform the adjunct professors of any decisions concerning the class.


Lesson Plan

1st Class Day (full eight hour class)

8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

Videotaped lecture, Introduction, Video: Weather: Come Rain, Come Shine, Atmosphere (air pressure)

9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

Hands-on experiments for Atmosphere (pressure)

10:30 a.m. - 12 noon

Videotaped lecture: Energy- heat transfer, radiation, absorption; Seasons; Optical Phenomena; Water Vapor and Hydrologic Cycle

12 noon - 12:30 p.m.


12:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Hands-on experiments for Energy, Seasons, Optical Phenomena, and Water Vapor and Hydrologic Cycle.

3:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Videotaped lecture on Clouds; Assign homework and discuss projects.

4:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Choose project. Go through resource material locally & Do evaluation.

2nd Class Day (full eight hour class)

8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.

Present projects. Discuss homework assignment.

10:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.

Videotaped lecture on Wind - Coriolis force; Air Masses and Fronts; Severe Weather: hurricanes, tornadoes, cyclones, thunderstorms; Video: Water Vapor: The Unseen Weather

11:15 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Hands-on experiments for wind, air masses and fronts, severe weather with 30 minute lunch break.

1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Videotaped lecture on - Weather forecasting; Video: Trying to Bat a Thousand; Video: Radar Reflections: Soul of a Storm. (Delete the two previous videos if additional time was needed for homework project presentations. It is more important to do hands-on experiments than to watch the videos.)

2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Hands-on experiments on weather forecasting.

3:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Other phenomena

4:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Hands on experiments on other phenomena and evaluations.




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Homework Assignment

Both of the two following assignments should be completed.

1) Each teacher should choose and do their homework project, write up a 2-3 page description, and be prepared to show it to their local class on the next Saturday.

2) Each teacher should complete the following homework assignment (adapted/copied from Activity 1 in Project Earth Science: Meteorology). One way to become an excellent forecaster is to carefully observe the weather around you and relate that to weather in other parts of the country.


1. Make several copies of the Weather Watch data sheet contained here and use one each day.

2. Obtain a copy of the daily national weather map found in a newspaper or other source for at least seven days in a row.

3. Record on your data sheet the daily weather conditions for every day until the next class. This includes

a) Cloud type - look at the data sheet for descriptions. Record all the kinds of clouds you see each day.

b) Precipitation - record the type (rain, snow, etc.), amount, time of day, and duration (steady or intermittent). If you are unable to measure the amount of precipitation, use some published or reported source.

c) Record the high and low temperature in both Celsius and Fahrenheit.

d) Record the barometric pressure.

4. Note any unusual national weather condition on your data sheet.



Write out the answers to the following questions:

1. Find one of your data sheets that indicates precipitation for that day. What kinds of clouds did you observe that day? Did you notice any change in the barometric pressure during the days leading up to the precipitation? What was the change?

2. Hopefully you have a national weather map for the same day that you noticed precipitation. Where in the country are major fronts located? What kinds of fronts were they? Were any of the fronts near you? What kind of front was it?

3. Do you have any other days for which you had precipitation? Were there any similarities in the cloud patterns and front movements for the rainy/snowy days? Explain.

4. Look at the national weather maps that you have. Do you notice any movement in the fronts or precipitation locations from day to day? If so, in what direction do they move?

5. Does there appear to be any general direction of the weather movement over North America? If so, in what direction?

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Teacher Activities

 The following is a list of Teacher Activities that are available in the course. We have attached several of the activities. Click here to see some TEACHER ACTIVITIES.




Effects of Air Pressure


Rising Air Bubble


Does Air Have Weight


Expanding and Contracting Balloon


Sucking a Balloon into a Flask


Collapsing a Plastic Bottle


Transferring Water with a Straw


A Bottle with Two Holes


Can You Lift a Newspaper?


Two Bottles Stuck Together with Paper


Building a Balloon (aneroid) Barometer


Building a Bottle Barometer


Another Bottle Barometer


Building a Thermometer


Which Gets Hotter: Light or Dark Surfaces?


Does Dark Soil Absorb More Heat than Light Soil?


Does Soil Absorb Heat Faster than Water?


Why Are Winter Days Shorter than Summer Days?


Why is it Colder in the Winter?


Sunlight and the Earth


Blue Skies and Red Sunsets


Building a Hygrometer


Building a Sling Pyschrometer


Is High Humidity Comfortable?


Evaporation of Water


How Evaporation Cools


Condensation of Water, part A


Condensation of Water, part B


Making a Rain Gauge


Making Rain


Measuring the Dew Point


Making Clouds and Fog


Making a Simple Cloud


Making Frost


Making Hail


Measuring the Wind Direction


Making a Wind Sock


Measuring Wind Speed, part 1

Beaufort Wind Scale


Measuring Wind Speed, part 2


Measuring Wind Speed, part 3


Making a Wind Gauge


Hot Air Rises


Pressure Differences Cause Wind


Bodies of Different Densities Don't Mix


Mixing Oil and Water


Floating Talcum Powder


Twirling Mobile


Air Front Simulation


Warm and Cold Fronts


Paper Snapper


Popping Balloons


Seeing a Vortex


Making a Vortex


Motion in a Vortex


Modeling a Hurricane


Using Hurricane Maps


Water Vapor: The Unseen Weather from Project Atmosphere


Looking at Severe Weather: Lightning and Tornadoes


Interpreting Weather Maps


Checking the Forecast


Using Weather Symbols


Weather Map Game


Forecasting by the Weather Chart


Weather Sayings - True or False


Making Smog


The Greenhouse Effect, part 1


The Greenhouse Effect, part 2


Greenhouse Effect: Too Much, Too Little, or Just Right?

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Teacher Projects

Only one person in a class can do a project unless otherwise indicated below. Some reference material is contained in the Teacher Project folder that your Instructor has, but we do not have copyright permission to make copies. A list of references follows the list of Teacher Projects.

 1. Making a Cloud in a Bottle - Invitations to Science Inquiry, 2nd ed., Tik L. Liem, p. 71.

 2. Making a Cloud in a Wide Mouth Jar

Reference: Invitations to Science Inquiry, 2nd ed., Tik L. Liem, p. 72

 3. Making a Fire Cyclone - Invitations to Science Inquiry, 2nd ed., Tik L. Liem, p. 86

 4. Making a Jar Hygrometer - Invitations to Science Inquiry, 2nd ed., Tik L. Liem, p. 84.

 5. Making a Barometer - Neil Ardley, The Science Book of Weather, p. 26.

Build this barometer and compare it with other ones in the class.

 6. Observing Humidity. More than one person can do this project.

Build the following two devices for observing and measuring humidity. Compare them in some observations with the humidity as measured by the wet and dry bulb method.
A. Robert W. Wood, Where? Experiments for the Young Scientist, p. 64. Same experiment also in Robert W. Wood, Science for Kids, 39 Easy Meteorology Experiments, p. 69.
B. Neil Ardley, The Science Book of Weather, p. 16.

 7. Building an anemometer - Terry Cash, et al., 175 More Science Experiments, page 143.

 8. Building a Wind Station - John Farndon, How the Earth Works, page 168.

 9. Building a Stevenson Screen.

Do this only if you already have the weather instruments to go inside it.
John Farndon, How the Earth Works, page 155.
Michael Allaby, How the Weather Works, page172.

 10. Wind Patterns - John Farndon, How the Earth Works, page 172.

 11. Build a Weather Station. More than one person can do this project.

Include home made balloon barometer, hygrometer, wind vane with direction and wind speed, rain gauge, and a commercial thermometer. Use it to record weather readings for at least five consecutive days. Keep the barometer inside but take all other readings outside at the same place and time of day. You may build the ones we did as activities during the class.
Good overall references are Michael Allaby, How the Weather Works, page 174 and Angela Wilkes, My First Science Book, page 14.

 12. Making a Hair Hygrometer (measures relative humidity)

Reference: Invitations to Science Inquiry, 2nd ed., Tik L. Liem, p. 85.

 13. Making a Hair Hygrometer (measures relative humidity)

Barr, Science Projects for Young People, p. 61.

 14. Making a Hair Hygrometer (measures relative humidity)

Robert W. Wood, Science for Kids, 39 easy Meteorology Experiments, p. 95.

 15. Make and write a report on the Great Blizzard of January, 1996.

Include weather maps showing the path of the storm for several days before and during the storm. Include model predictions, satellite images, radar images, newspaper clippings, expert's analysis, etc. Much of this can be obtained from newspapers, but also from the World Wide Web. This can be a classic case study for your class to study. Nothing in the Teacher Project folder for this one. More than one person can do this project.

 16. Produce a report on clouds.

Take photographs of several kinds of clouds, as many as you can find during the two week period between classes. Get them developed and labeled. Make sure you turn in an original copy of the photos for use by the instructor in future classes. Discuss the clouds that you photographed and explain why you couldn't take photos of other kinds of clouds. Nothing in the Teacher Project folder for this one. More than one person can do this project.

 17. Hydrologic Water Cycle

This was originally a Teacher Activity, but it was deemed to be too long. As a Project, this experiment should be worked out at home and brought into class and actually demonstrated, not just discussed. You may use the apparatus in the class kit when you demonstrate it to the class (for example, tea kettle, hot plate, etc.). There is a description of this project in the folder along with some additional references. More than one person can do this project (not more than two persons).
Another version is Demonstration 10 in Project Earth Science: Meteorology.

18) Do Activity 4 in Project Earth Science: Meteorology.

Find the percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere. This is a short experiment to set up, but you need to make a brief measurement each day for several days. It would be great to do this activity in your own class and report back to us your students' reactions. Bring entire apparatus and measurements to share with our class. No more than two persons can do this project.


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1) Bill Nye, Bill Nye the science guy's big blast of science (Addison Wesley, Reading, Mass) 1993.

2) Robert W. Wood, When? Experiments for the Young Scientist. (Tab Books, New York, 1995.

3) Dave Prochnow and Kathy Prochnow, Why? Experiments for the Young Scientist. (Tab Books, Blue Ridge Summit, PA , 1993 .

4) Dave Prochnow and Kathy Prochnow, How? More experiments for the young scientist, Tab Books, Blue Ridge Summit, PA, 1993.

5) Robert W. Wood, Where? Experiments for the young scientist. Tab Books, Blue Ridge Summit, PA, 1995.

6) Brenda Walpole, 175 Science Experiments, Random House, New York, 1988.

7) Terry Cash, Steve Parker, and Barbara Taylor, 175 More Science Experiments, Random House, New York, 1989. Not real useful.

8) Neil Ardley, The Science Book of Weather, HBJ, San Diego, 1992.

9) Vera Webster, Weather Experiments, Childrens Press, Chicago, 1982. Not useful.

10) Linda Allison, The Reasons for Seasons, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1975.

Not useful.

11) Margaret Kenda and Phyllis S. Williams, Science Wizardry for Kids, Barron's, Hauppauge, New York, 1992.

12) Craig F. Bohren, Clouds in a Glass of Beer, John Wiley, New York, 1987.

13) Craig F. Bohren, What Light Through Yonder Window Breaks?, John Wiley, 1991.

Not useful for this course.

14) John Farndon, Weather, Dorling Kindersley, New York, 1992.

15) The Earth and Sky, Scholastic, New York, 1992. Not useful.

16) John Farndon, How the Earth Works, Reader's Digest, Pleasantville, NY, 1992.

17) Robert Hirschfeld and Nancy White, The Kids' Science Book, Williamson Publishing, Charlotte, Vermont, 1995. Not very useful.

18) Janice VanCleave, 200 Gooey, Slippery, Slimy, Weird & Fun Experiments, John Wiley, New York, 1993. Not useful.

19) Judith Hann, How Science Works, Reader's Digest, Pleasantville, NY, 1991.

20) Tik L. Liem, Invitations to Science Inquiry, 2nd ed., Science Inquiry Enterprises, 14358 Village View Lane, Chino Hills, CA 91709, 1987. Very good book.

21) Muriel Mandell, Simple Weather Experiments with Everyday Materials, Sterling Publishers, New York, 1990.

22) Robert W. Wood, Science for Kids, 39 Easy Meteorology Experiments, Tab Books, Blue Ridge Summit, PA, 1991.

23) Barbara Taylor, Weather and Climate, Kingfisher, New York, 1993.

24) Jack Williams, The Weather Book, Vintage Books, New York, 1992. Copyrighted by USA Today. Very nice book.

25) Michael Allaby, How the Weather Works, Reader's Digest, Pleasantville, New York, 1995,

26) Janice VanCleave, Weather, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1995. Nice book.

27) Brian Cosgrove, Weather, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1991.

28) George Barr, Science Projects for Young People, Dover, New York,

29) Muriel Mandell, Physics Experiments for Children, Dover, New York.

30) Diane Willow and Emily Curran, Science Sensations, Addison-Wesley, Reading, Mass. Not very useful.

31) Scienceworks, Ontario Science Centre, Addison-Wesley, Reading, Mass.

Not very helpful.

32) Angela Wilkes, My First Science Book, Knopf, New York.

Not very helpful.

33) The Stories Clouds Tell by Dr. Margaret LeMone, Project ATMOSPHERE

34) Ranger Rick's Nature Scope: Wild about Weather, National Wildlife Federation, Washington, DC, 1985, 1989.

35) SAM, Student Activities in Meteorology, Version 2, June 1994, by Beverly L. Meier and Elisa Passarelli. NOAA/Environmental Research Laboratories/Forecast Systems Laboratory Publication. Received from U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA Office of Public and Constituent Affairs, Washington, DC 20230.


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Places to Write for Useful Information about Meteorology

 U.S. Department of Commerce
NOAA Office of Public and Constituent Affairs
Washington, DC 20230
NOAA, National Weather Service NOAA Public Affairs Correspondence Unit
Office of Warning and Forecasting 1305 East West Highway, #8624
8060 13th Street, Room 1326 Silver Spring, MD 20910.
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Public Affairs Office Public Affairs Office/Education
National Weather Service U.S. Department of Commerce
1325 East-West Highway 14th and Constitution Streets, NW
Silver Spring, MD 20910 Washington, DC 20030
Information and Education Outreach Program Office of Education, P-700
National Center for Atmospheric Research National Air and Space Museum
P.O. Box 3000 Smithsonian Institution
Boulder, CO 80307-3000 Washington, DC 20036
American Meteorological Society Organization is very pro-active in teacher
1701 K Street, NW education materials. They have developed
Suite 300 Project Atmosphere materials. Write for
Washington, DC 20006 information.
The Weather Classroom Lots of good information for teacher. Write
c/o AMF for information. They have a free 76 page
P.O. Box 723247 Weather booklet.
Atlanta, GA 31139-0247

Some Good Weather Sites on the World Wide Web: Virginia weather Virginia State Climatology Office The Weather Channel USAToday Weather American Meteorological Society Weather Resource Page



SOLs Covered:


K.1, K.8, K.9

Grade 1

1.1, 1.8

Grade 2

2.1, 2.6

Grade 3

3.1, 3.8, 3.11

Grade 4

4.1, 4.6,

Grade 5


Grade 6

6.1, 6.2

Earth Science

ES.1, ES.2, ES.3, ES.4, ES.7, ES.12, ES.13

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