Comparing Rain Totals

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Compare and contrast daily precipitation data collected by student made rain gauges to data reported on the internet by researching and creating a bar graph

Big Idea

Tools for measuring data must be precise.


1 minutes

Warm up

5 minutes

We have been collecting precipitation totals for a week. I created a table,Weather Data Using Student Made Rain Gauges, that they have been using to track the precipitation collected by their rain gauges. The students have been working with their team and recording their own totals. Today I asked them to trade one of their notebooks with a different team and have them check it against what they had recorded. This started a wonderful discussion as to why some of the totals were different and set the stage for our lesson comparing their totals to the weather underground.

Guided practice

15 minutes

I created a PowerPoint, Comparing Weather Data, to help guide us through this lesson. The PowerPoint also enabled me to  chunk the lesson, helping my students better understand the steps to using the website during the activity. I have the links placed on the slides and it was beneficial that I explained and showed the sites whole group first using a guide sheet. This way we navigated the site together, and then they navigated in groups. I also created for this lesson, How to use Weather Underground. I found that this how-to sheet  was helpful when the students started their research and visited on their own.


30 minutes

The underlying question for this lesson was, "Are students as good at tracking precipitation data as the professionals?" In order to check their work against the meteorologists, my students researched what the precipitation totals were during the same time period according to the experts on I created a graphic organizer,  Weather Data Using Weather Underground.pdf, to help them keep their data organized. They then created a bar graph comparing their daily total amounts to the amounts reported by Weather Underground. 

Class Discussion/Wrap up

10 minutes

By creating the bar graph, the students had a visual representation of the similarities and discrepancies in their data. I found that this was much more effective that just looking at the numbers on a page. I also wanted them to think about what those discrepancies could indicate, for this reason I created Evaluate your precipitation data. There are only three questions on this form, however, I felt that it helped them focus on the "why" there were differences and helped them think of what they could change if they repeated the investigation, or as one of my students asked "do we get a do over for this?"