6. Weather Instruments

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SWBAT explain how weather data is collected, analyzed, and used to predict weather in an area.

Big Idea

Students discover how scientific instruments are used to forecast weather by examining six weather instrument models, reading passages about each one to report its use and importance in collecting weather data from the atmosphere.

Overview of Lesson

5e Lesson Plan Model

Many of my science lessons are based upon and taught using the 5E lesson plan model: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. This lesson plan model allows me to incorporate a variety of learning opportunities and strategies for students.  With multiple learning experiences, students can gain new ideas, demonstrate thinking, draw conclusions, develop critical thinking skills, and interact with peers through discussions and hands-on activities.  With each stage in this lesson model, I select strategies that will serve students best for the concepts and content being delivered to them.  These strategies were selected for this lesson to facilitate peer discussions, participation in a group activity, reflective learning practices, and accountability for learning.

Lesson Synopsis

The Weather Instruments lesson provides students the opportunity to examine six types of weather instruments used to collect data from the atmosphere. They develop an understanding of each one's purpose by rotating through stations reading passages, writing key facts on a graphic organizer, and summarizing how it works.  They use their acquired understanding to accurately describe the features of one instrument and generate an explanation of how that instrument works through paragraph writing.

Why do I teach this lesson?

Many of my students have limited science background as they have not had formal science instruction prior to entering middle school; therefore I incorporated stations throughout this lesson that require students obtain information on six weather instruments used to collect data in the atmosphere. I reiterate to the students that we have explored many parts of a weather system already including the atmosphere, moving air, wind patterns, temperature, moisture, and precipitation. It is the combination and interaction of these conditions  in the atmosphere that create various types of weather which why I selected these instruments to examine and research.  These instruments are used to collect data on previous topics we have explored throughout this unit so far.  I teach this lesson to better prepare my students for understanding how forecasts and weather predictions are made.  They will need to apply their understanding in our next lesson of forecasting weather. 

Next Generation Science Standards  

This lesson indirectly addresses the following NGSS Standard(s): 

5-ESS-2 Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.

Instead of developing a model, students examine six weather instrument models: wind vane, anemometer, thermometer, barometer, hygrometer, and rain gauge.  Through research and observation of these models, students develop an deeper understanding of how people collect data from the atmosphere to forecast weather.  

Science & Engineering Practices

Students are engaged in the following scientific and engineering Practices.

2.)    Developing and Using Models: Students will observe features of weather instruments to explain the purpose of each one.

6.)    Constructing explanations: Students will use evidence from reading passages on the six weather instruments to explain its purpose.

8.)    Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information:  Using the notes collected from reading passages at stations, students will use the evidence to formulate a written description and explanation of one weather instrument by using transition words.

Crosscutting Concepts

The lesson "Weather Instruments" will correlate to other interdisciplinary areas.  These Crosscutting Concepts include

1.) Patterns: Parts that make up a weather system includes temperature, moisture, clouds, precipitation, air pressure, wind speed, and wind direction. Information about these parts are collected with specific weather instruments

4.) Systems and Models: When parts of a weather system change it will be reflected in the data collected by weather instruments

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Disciplinary Core Ideas within this lesson include:

ESS2.D Weather and Climate: Climate describes patterns of typical weather conditions over different scales and variations.  Weather patterns can be predicted, observed, and analyzed.


Classroom Management

Modeling to Develop Student Responsibility, Accountability, and Independence 

Depending upon the time of year, this lesson is taught, teachers should consider modeling how groups should work together; establish group norms for activities, class discussions, and partner talks.  In addition, it is important to model think aloud strategies.  This will set up students to be more expressive and develop thinking skills during the activity.  The first half of the year, I model what group work and/or talks “look like and sound like.”  I intervene the moment students are off task with reminders and redirecting.  By the second and last half of the year, I am able to ask students, “Who can give of three reminders for group activities to be successful?” Who can tell us two reminders for partner talks?”  Students take responsibility for becoming successful learners.  Again before teaching this lesson, consider the time of year, it may be necessary to do a lot of front loading to get students to eventually become more independent and transition through the lessons in a timely manner.


15 minutes

Today, I begin by placing a weather instrument card face down on each students desk. I instruct the students not to look at the card in order to peak their interest and curiosity.   

With that, I pose the following questions: "How do meteorologists collect data on all the changes and interactions in the atmosphere? and How do you they use that data to predict future forecasts?" I am not looking for an answer now, but plant the questions and instruct them to keep these questions in their mind as we explore how meteorologists collect information about the changes and interactions in the atmosphere.

I now instruct them to turn their card over and examine the instrument on it. Then with their group members, I ask students to turn and talk , following turn and talk norms about the weather instrument card each member has been given. I walk around during this time to monitor group discussions. I listen to students make inferences about the instrument he or she has and about instruments other group members have. 

Once group discussions are done, I bring students attention back as a whole class and ask them to share some of their observations. As they share, I splash key words on the board that are relevant to further developing their understanding of these weather instruments. These words include: hot air temperatures, cold air temperatures, amount of rain, direction of wind.

After previewing our cards, I share with them they are observing six weather instruments today: a barometer, anemometer, thermometer, wind vane, hygrometer, and rain gauge and noting how they are used to collect data to forecast weather in an area. I tell them to hold on to their weather instrument card to transition into stations.

I selected these six instruments because they collect data from the air and atmosphere to forecast weather. Students are examining them today to develop an understanding for their use and purpose so they are ready to learn about forecasting in our next lesson.


30 minutes

I instruct students to take the weather instruments observations graphic organizer from the center of their table.  I direct them the first part of the organizer and explain "in part one, you are observing each instrument's characteristics and writing three observations on the weather instruments observations graphic organizer. Then you are writing two facts you think you know about the instrument, and finally, make an inference on how the tool works by using a sentence frame "Based on my observation and what I know, I believe (name the tool)...(state what you think it does.)" By having students make inferences based on their features and how it works, provides students better understanding of how these tools accurately collect weather data.  

I continue, explaining that in part 2, they are reading the weather instrument passage at each station,  recording details about how the instrument works on the graphic organizer, and drawing a model the instrument in the box.

At this point, I direct students to transition to the station that matches their weather instrument card they received at the start of class. I instruct them to walk quietly to that station and get ready to begin.  I watch the students locate the instrument and begin observations and study of the six weather instruments: wind vane, anemometer, barometer, thermometer, hygrometer, and rain gauge.

While they are at stations, I walk around the room watching them observe instruments like the wind vanethermometeranemometer and listening them note characteristics. I continue walking around observing students reading. I notice some are doing shared reading, while others are reading to themselves.  I check in at each station making sure the details are accurately recorded on the graphic organizer  

At the end of the first station, I ask the students to look and listen as I model how we move to the next station.   I ask for a thumbs up if they can move this way. With all thumbs up, students move to the next station. I ask students to pay attention to the instrument name and to make sure observations are being written under the correct tool heading on the weather instruments observations graphic organizer. 


20 minutes

After the last station, direct students to their seat and say, "Now each group is going to report a one minute summary on a weather instrument.  I selected this strategy because it encourages students generate a written summary on what they have just learned by writing only one sentence that incorporates the main ideas to show their understanding. It is a useful formative assessment tool to check for understanding.

Each group is assigned a different instrument and given one minute summary template. I tell the students to look at the back of their chair and identify the which number (1,2,3,4) is on it. I point out to them their number corresponds to their task posted on the board:

1.) writes the agreed upon one sentence summary,

2.) records 5 main idea/details as discussed with the group  

3.) reads the one summary sentence to the class, and

4.) turns the weather instrument card over to reveal assigned instrument and informs the group of the assigned instrument.

I inform them, they have 5 minutes to have one sentence ready to share. During this time, I walk around and check in with groups. Then I ask each group to share their one minute sentence summary to the class. I collect the summaries to compile a class set. (rain gauge wind vane shares)

Following class summaries, I inform the students that the instruments they investigated today collect data on specific parts of the atmosphere and forecasters use the data to make inferences about future weather. 


20 minutes

After our summaries, I direct students to look at their weather instruments observation notes from the investigation ask them to select one instrument to further describe and explain. I remind them our paragraph format used for the writing assignments. I review the directions of the assignment with the whole class and instruct them to take out the transition words reference chart  and bring student's attention to the section: to show order, and remind them to select transition words from this section to connect their ideas together. 

Once we review the directions, students work independently. Meanwhile, I am walking around the room, stopping randomly to check in with a student. At the end of class, I assign this is to be finished as a homework assignment. I collect it and use as a formative assessment.  (studentsample 1) (student sample 2) (student sample 3)