Weather and Climate
The unit begins with students reflecting on their current knowledge of weather and explaining various aspects of weather conditions using correct terminology. This is highlighted as students describe various weather conditions depicted in photographs and begin a weather chart on which they record their observations.
Several lessons explore the water cycle. Lesson 2 introduces students to rain measurement through the use of an instrument called the rain gauge. An experiment using rain gauges of various diameters demonstrates the validity of rain gauge measurements. In addition to exploring quantity of rainfall, students are also challenged to consider the quality of rain as they investigate acid rain. Further, students become familiar with the water cycle as a continuous process in which rainwater is a part. Through a lab activity, students experiment with the processes of evaporation and condensation. Additionally, students make weather predictions through a study of clouds. They analyze and classify clouds as cirrus, cumulonimbus, cumulus, and stratus. They also look at cloud characteristics as a way of predicting future weather events.
The last few lessons focus on climate. This study begins with several demonstrations that reveal to students the effects of the sun and how this relates to climate zones. This series of lessons provides opportunities for students to identify and describe characteristics of each of the different climate zones and their respective vegetation and animal ecosystems. Students learn how the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, as well as the Arctic and Antarctic Polar Circles, define the terrestrial climatic zones: Tropical, Temperate (South and North), and Polar (South and North). Students become familiar with aspects of extreme climates, such as the Polar Regions and the deserts, and become familiar with ways of life in these regions.