Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Predicting Weather

Essential Question: How do we predict weather?

I was a fifth grade teacher for 18 years back in the 70's and 80's in a small rural school in Maine. During that time, we always created a weather station with a combination of store-bought and "home-made" instruments to make daily predictions. Now, of course, in addition to the local news weather and the Weather Channel, there are numerous places to find detailed predictions on the Web based on the very latest technologies. There are tons of webquests. My question is this: With all the instant ways of finding a prediction, why bother getting our hands dirty to create these tools?

My answer, on reflection, is that the wonderful digital resources on the web simply don't allow us to experience at a gut level the joy of creating and manipulating these hands-on tools. Experiencing the natural world directly gives us roots while at the same time offering us the opportunity to feel capable and self-reliant.

What are the limits of information technology in growing kids who feel connected, loved, and capable?

Make Your Own Weather Station
Making Weather Tracking Tools
Building and Using a Homemade Weather Station
Weather Wiz Kids
Web Weather for Kids
Weather Basics
Weather Resources for Students
Lesson Plan: Weather Tools of the Trade
42exlore: Weather
Kathy Schrock: Weather Resources
eThemes Search
K12 Station: Weather (Grades 3-5)
K12 Station: Weather (Grades 6-8)

Maine Weather Notes (John Briggs)
MLR for Science & Technology


Lauren Rosen said...

Agreed Jim, but why not have kids do things "yesterday's way" and then compare their predictions to the current web technology. Then discuss/determine why their predictions were the same or different from the web information. Then compare that to local news or other lands and predictions they can make about other places. Seems like yesterday's way would serve as a great springboard for higher level thinking about a topic they didn't have the opportunity to get as deeply into before.

Jim Burke said...

Lauren . . . agreed! It is the starting point I'm concern with. Diving directly into symbols/abstractions without having direct experiences seems questionable to me. Connections need to be made.


aireland said...

Jim - well said. I couldn't agree more. More concrete experiences please!

John Briggs said...

Hi Jim!

I agree with Lauren. I still think the "common sense" ways of old and that gut feeling does much better than the forecast models of today.

Jim Burke said...

John . . so glad you dropped by. I added a link to your *Weather Notes" blog in the post.



bcdtech said...

Although I am usually a very hands-on science teacher, weather-for 3rd graders- is one where I have moved to a more abstract version. I used to make lots of homemade weather instruments with the kids- even hair hygrometers. Most of the time these did not make it home on the bus. It seemed like we spent a lot of time making them, but then didn't get the use out of them that I would have liked. For the last couple of years I introduce the tools- show both the homemade and the store bought versions. I give the kids directions so that they can make them at home, if they wish. I spend the hours we would have spent on tools looking at weather online and playing with edheads weather.

I'm still not crazy about the way I'm teaching this unit on weather, but my experience has not been great with the homemade versions.

Just finished up today and now moving on to electricity and making cars using Linx materials.