The weather informs many of our daily decisions, and is a great topic for encouraging varied and interesting scientific enquiry as well as understanding a range of scientific concepts including light, seasons and states of matter. While the weather is generally seen on a very large scale, we can recreate many of its individual phenomena in the classroom, with basic supplies and not too much effort. We’ve brought together some weather topic ideas for how to do this, and listed them below to provide you with some inspiration for activities in the classroom.
This activity shows you a really simple way to make an aneroid barometer which uses air to measure atmospheric pressure. Pressure is a useful tool for predicting changes in weather, with high pressure generally indicating good weather, and low pressure pointing towards bad. You can use this barometer to introduce ideas about the relationship between pressure and weather systems, and assess how accurate you can be in predicting the forecast.
This activity from the Met Office allows you to replicate the basic water cycle, creating the conditions for rain to fall, collect, evaporate, and fall again as rain. The simple experiment can be used to explain the process through which water from large seas and oceans manages to spread right across the world, in an excellent mini-replica of the real cycle.
Making rainbows can be used to explore a number of different ideas, suitable for a variety of age groups. As well as helping to develop understanding of a variety of weather phenomena, creating rainbows can play a role in learning the order of the colour spectrum, while older children may use it as an introduction to the study of light and dispersion.
Anemometers are used to measure wind speed and, using just a few everyday materials, you can easily make your own following this guide from Weather Wiz Kids. Measuring and calculating wind speed requires accurate recording, so this experiment can be used to encourage strong scientific methods of working. The other ‘invisible’ forces acting on the anemometer, such as drag, which may affect results can also be explored where appropriate here.
Hygrometers are used by meteorologists to measure how much moisture is in the air. This, along with air pressure mentioned above, can be a good indicator of future weather and as such is a key measure used in forecasting. Making a hygrometer takes a little preparation, but its impressive results can be used to explore a number of key concepts including evaporation and the relationship between air humidity and rain.
Used for thousands of years, sundials represent an easy, accurate way to measure the time of day. By making their own, children can explore time, the seasons, scientific history and much more. This easy to replicate Met Office version with free template outlines the simple steps needed to correctly mark up and use your dial.
These activities can cover a number of different areas of science on the National Curriculum including:
• All pupils should be taught to use practical scientific methods, processes and skills in their learning of scientific topics
Year 1 – Seasons
• observe changes across the four seasons
• observe and describe weather associated with the seasons and how day length varies
Year 3 – Light
• recognise that shadows are formed when the light from a light source is blocked by an opaque object
• find patterns in the way that the size of shadows change
Year 4 – States of matter
• identify the part played by evaporation and condensation in the water cycle and associate the rate of evaporation with temperature
What fun ideas do you have for learning about fractions? For more weather ideas visit our weather page or our weather topic resources follow us on Pinterest.
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