I started this lesson with a simple question, "How would I know if I should prepare for a wonderful day at the beach, or if I should pack my umbrella?" This opened the conversation to the job of a meteorologist and weather prediction. This gets the conversation going and they are hooked! For this lesson, I created a PowerPoint, What is a barometer? to help explore this instrument that helps with forecasting the weather. I also used the PowerPoint to help keep us on track, and to ensure that no essential information is inadvertently missed because of any other points that may arise during the course of the lesson.
By using the PowerPoint, I am able to touch upon the different learning styles in my classroom. I use videos and other digital media to engage my students and help explain complex concepts. One of the videos I used is an actual meteorologist explaining how a barometer works and what it does. This video helps lay the foundation for when they must design and build their own.
Some of my students struggled with the fact that I did not tell them how to build the barometer, I simply gave them the materials for building a barometer. This was not an easy challenge. One up-side to this challenge was that most of the students paired up when they couldn't figure it out. Here are students discussing possible barometer designs. Once they realized that the balloon covered the mouth of the jar they were on their way here's what it looked like when they finally figured out where the balloon went. I allotted about 15minutes for the first part of the challenge. I created a focus page Barometer Design Challenge. which I believe helped my students put their ideas down, whether on their own or with their partner. I think that without it, the students would not have been as successful. At the end, for those students that were really struggling, I did show a video on how to put the barometer together, I included it on the last slide of the PowerPoint.
When we built the barometers, we had to wait for the next day to see if the barometer was working. We had to wait for the air pressure to change, not an easy thing for third graders, since in their world, you click and voila you have your results! That is why I believe that reflecting on the process is extremely important. I purposely created a reflection sheet, Barometer Design Evaluation, however, I left out the word reflection. I find that when I ask students to reflect, they struggle in pinpointing their ideas, but when I ask them to "evaluate" what they've done, they are ready to share what worked and what didn't. The students also tracked the air pressure by using a Barometer Air Pressure Log I created. They were excited the following day when their barometers showed a change! Here are some finished barometer samples and a bar Graph Sample the students created after collecting data.