Observing the weather
How do we measure the weather and what do we use to measure it?
We’ve provided an “Introduction to the Met Office” video to get the students engaged and excited for their learning over the next few weeks. You might want to show this video in your own time before you start Virtual Science Camp 2021
Click the icon to download the leader pack for Sessions 1-3
Observing the weather sessions, including videos:
What is temperature?
In this part of the session, we will be discussing temperature and explaining the predicament that Farmer Forth and her sheep found themselves in and how the Met Office can help her keep her sheep safe. This is demonstrated through a hands-on activity you might want to do too with your students (guidance is below). You will also explore ‘what is temperature’, so be prepared to challenge the answer ‘how hot or cold something is’ as we want to encourage students to link temperature to how much energy a substance has.
What is wind?
In this session we will be discussing the question “what is wind?” and the demonstrator will lead an experiment with ping pong balls as air molecules in a box (air parcel). The participants should clap every time they see the marbles collide with each other or the sides of the tray. This experiment is likely to be noisy!
Feel free to mute and watch the demonstrator with subtitles if you prefer, alternatives to clapping could be a finger tap or standing up/raising a hand for a quieter classroom option.
- Explain the physics behind what temperature is in terms of molecular activity.
- Describe methods of measuring temperature.
- Explain why temperature forecasts are essential using sheep chill example.
- Understand the molecular origins of pressure and why areas of high pressure will move
- into areas of low pressure.
- Learn how to read a pressure chart.
- Explain how we measure wind speed and make home-made anemometers.
- Describe the effects of the wind.
- 2 cuddly gloves per group, or cuddly toys as long as no one minds getting them damp
- Spray bottle or glass of water containing room temperature water (not cold water!)
- 1 piece of card (roughly A5) for creating wind
- Paper towels (just in case!)
- A thermometer (like the kind you would point at someone’s forehead to read their temperature, optional!)
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In this session you will be investigating clouds, how they form and what they’re made of. You’ll get the opportunity to make your own clouds through taking part in three experiments which will be explained by our demonstrators.
- There are 3 main types of cloud: cirrus, stratus and cumulus. Discuss the types of weather typically associated with each.
- For clouds to form, the air needs to cool so that the moisture in the air condenses. Discuss mechanisms that cause air to rise and cool.
- Convection: Discuss how warmer air rises upwards while cold air sinks down. Point out resemblance of patterns with cumulus cloud tops.
- Cloud in bottle: Discuss how the rise in temperature causes the moisture to evaporate.
- Discuss that the sudden drop in pressure causes the temperature to drop and the water vapour condenses, forming a cloud.
- Large jar/clear container (big enough to fit your small jar inside)
- Small jar (ie. Baby food/pesto jar; works best with a narrow opening). Needs to be glass to ensure it will sink!
- Cold water (to put in large jar)
- Warm water (to put in small jar)
- Sticky tape to attach the string to the jar – if needed)
- String/thread to tie around the small jar
- Food colouring – a strong colour like red or blue is best
- Sheet of white paper/card
Cloud in a Glass experiment
- Large glass, jar or transparent container
- Warm water (hot bath temperature)
- Ice cubes
- Metal or foil dish (you can make one of these out of foil if you don’t have one)
- Black piece of paper/card
Cloud in a bottle (in video)
- 2 litre bottle
- Cool water
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Download all (Zip folder includes PDFs and editable PowerPoint)
In this session we will be learning with or demonstrators how observations are important to forecasting and what kinds of instruments we use to observe the weather. You will then get the opportunity to take part in becoming satellites and radars through our interactive games.
- Why are observations important?
- How do we observe all the different parts of the weather at a weather station?
- How does a radar station work and what do we use radar for?
- Why do we need different types of satellite?
- What do we observe using satellites?
Click the icon to download:
Matching observations equipment (PDF) Data journey satellites (PDF)
Matching observations equipment game (PowerPoint)
This contains a series of images of observing equipment. Participants need to work out what each image is showing and what it measures.
Human Radar Station Game