Lesson 1: Watching the Weather

Getting Started

People have been studying weather since the time of the ancient Greeks. Even some of the oldest and simplest tools can help predict short-term weather cycles. You will create similar weather tools in this unit. In modern times, computers use math and data gathered from weather stations around the world to help meteorologists — scientists who study weather — investigate longer-term weather patterns and predict the weather a few days and even a few weeks in advance. In this lesson you will learn about weather forecasts and begin a weather journal.

NOTE: Be sure to keep all of the projects and activity pages in this unit. You will need them to study for the unit test and to complete the final project.

Stuff You Need

  • Eyewitness Weather by Brian Cosgrove (revised edition)
  • newspaper* (Activity 2 - optional)
  • stapler
  • string* (Activity 1 - optional)
  • thermometers (kit)

* - denotes an optional material that may or may not be needed

Ideas to Think About

  • How can we predict the weather?
  • How has the ability to predict the weather changed our lives?

Things to Know

  • Meteorologists are scientists who study the weather.
  • Weather forecasting involves collecting vast amounts of weather data, which is fed to supercomputers. Meteorologists use this information to help them make predictions about the weather.
  • A forecast is a prediction about what will happen in the weather based on the current conditions.
  • Barometers, thermometers, and hygrometers are three of the oldest weather prediction tools. Barometers measure air pressure, thermometers measure temperature, and hygrometers measure humidity (the amount of moisture in the air).
Reading and Questions
Materials: Eyewitness Weather by Brian Cosgrove (revised edition)
Read pages 10-15 and 62-63 of the book Eyewitness Weather by Brian Cosgrove.
  1. Compare the weather instruments shown on pp. 10-11 and 62-63. What three weather instruments invented hundreds of years ago are still in use today? What does each instrument measure?
    A hygrometer measures humidity (the amount of water in the air), a barometer measures air pressure, and a thermometer measures temperature.
  2. Who was the first person to use math to predict the weather? What did he call his method?
    Lewis Richardson invented the idea of "numeric weather predictions" in 1920. Meteorologists still use this basic method today.


  • Collect data to provide evidence for how atmospheric conditions result in changes in weather. (S)
  • Know that weather conditions are variable and can be predicted within probabilistic ranges. (S)

Introducing the Lesson

Your child will begin his study of weather and climate by learning how meteorologists track weather data. He will begin a weather journal of his own and will consider different uses for weather forecasts.

NOTE: Be sure your child keeps all of the projects and activity pages in this unit. He will need them to study for the unit test and to complete the final project.