This is Activity 12 of a set of Level 1 activities designed by the Science Center for Teaching, Outreach, and Research on Meteorology (STORM) Project. The authors suggest that previous activities in the unit be completed before Activity 12: Air Masses, including those that address pressure systems and dew point temperature. In Activity 12, the students learn about the four main types of air masses that affect weather in the United States, their characteristic temperatures, and humidity levels as it relates to dew point temperatures. The lesson plan follows the 5E format. Initially, students discuss local weather and then examine surface temperature and dew point data on maps to determine patterns and possible locations of air masses. They learn about the source regions of air masses and compare their maps to a forecast weather map with fronts and pressure systems drawn in. During the Extension phase, students access current maps with surface and dew point temperatures at http://www.uni.edu/storm/activities/level1 and try to identify locations of air masses. They sketch in fronts and compare their results to the fronts map. Evaluation consists of collection of student papers.
Middle School Atmospheric Science
Students are introduced to measuring and identifying sources of air pollution, as well as how environmental engineers try to control and limit the amount of air pollution. In Part 1, students are introduced to nitrogen dioxide as an air pollutant and how it is quantified. Major sources are identified, using EPA bar graphs. Students identify major cities and determine their latitudes and longitudes. They estimate NO2 values from color maps showing monthly NO2 averages from two sources: a NASA satellite and the WSU forecast model AIRPACT. In Part 2, students continue to estimate NO2 values from color maps and use Excel to calculate differences and ratios to determine the model's performance. They gain experience working with very large numbers written in scientific notation, as well as spreadsheet application capabilities.
Students are introduced to air masses, with an emphasis on the differences between and characteristics of high- versus low-pressure air systems. Students also hear about weather forecasting instrumentation and how engineers work to improve these instruments for atmospheric measurements on Earth and in space.
Students use their senses to describe what the weather is doing and predict what it might do next. After gaining a basic understanding of weather patterns, students act as state park engineers and design/build "backyard weather stations" to gather data to make actual weather forecasts.
Using gumdrops and toothpicks, students conduct a large-group, interactive ozone depletion model. Students explore the dynamic and competing upper atmospheric roles of the protective ozone layer, the sun's UV radiation and harmful human-made CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons).
By studying key processes in the carbon cycle, such as photosynthesis, composting and anaerobic digestion, students learn how nature and engineers "biorecycle" carbon. Students are exposed to examples of how microbes play many roles in various systems to recycle organic materials and also learn how the carbon cycle can be used to make or release energy.
- Atmospheric Science
- Material Type:
- Lesson Plan
- Provider Set:
- Caryssa Joustra
- Daniel Yeh
- Emanuel Burch
- George Dick
- Herby Jean
- Ivy Drexler
- Jorge Calabria
- Lyudmila Haralampieva
- Matthew Woodham
- Onur Ozcan
- Robert Bair
- Stephanie Quintero
- Date Added:
Students investigate the weather from a systems approach, learning how individual parts of a system work together to create a final product. Students learn how a barometer works to measure the Earth's air pressure by building a model using simple materials. Students analyze the changes in barometer measurements over time and compare those to actual weather conditions. They learn how to use a barometer to understand air pressure and predict actual weather changes.
Students are introduced to the concept of energy cycles by learning about the carbon cycle. They will learn how carbon atoms travel through the geological (ancient) carbon cycle and the biological/physical carbon cycle. Students will consider how human activities have disturbed the carbon cycle by emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. They will discuss how engineers and scientists are working to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Lastly, students will consider how they can help the world through simple energy conservation measures.
Students observe and discuss a simple balloon model of an electrostatic precipitator to better understand how this pollutant recovery method functions in cleaning industrial air pollution.
By tracing the movement of radiation released during an accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, students see how air pollution, like particulate matter, can become a global issue.
Students use a sponge and water model to explore the concept of relative humidity and create a percent scale.
Air is one of Earth's most precious resources, and we need to take care of it in order to preserve the environment and protect human health. To this end, students develop their understanding of visible air pollutants with an incomplete combustion demonstration, a "smog in a jar" demonstration, and by building simple particulate matter collectors.
Students learn how the greenhouse effect is related to global warming and how global warming impacts our planet, including global climate change. Extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and how we react to these changes are the main points of focus of this lesson.
Students build and observe a simple aneroid barometer to learn about changes in barometric pressure and weather forecasting.
Students use a hurricane tracking map to measure the distance from a specific latitude and longitude location of the eye of a hurricane to a city. Then they use the map's scale factor to convert the distance to miles. They also apply the distance formula by creating an x-y coordinate plane on the map. Students are challenged to analyze what data might be used by computer science engineers to write code that generates hurricane tracking models. Then students analyze a MATLAB® computer code that uses the distance formula repetitively to generate a table of data that tracks a hurricane at specific time intervals. Students come to realize that using a computer program to generate the calculations (instead of by hand) is very advantageous for a dynamic situation like tracking storm movements. Their inspection of some MATLAB code helps them understand how it communicates what to do using mathematical formulas, logical instructions and repeated tasks. They also conclude that the example program is too simplistic to really be a useful tool; useful computer model tools must necessarily be much more complex.
Students learn about some of the different climate zones in China and consider what would be appropriate design, construction and materials for houses in those areas. This prepares them to conduct the associated activity(ies) in which they design, build and test small model homes for three different climate zones.
Students follow weather forecasts to gauge their accuracy and produce a weather report for the class. They develop skills of observation, recording and reporting.
Students learn what causes hurricanes and what engineers do to help protect people from destruction caused by hurricane winds and rain. Research and data collection vessels allow for scientists and engineers to model and predict weather patterns and provide forecasts and storm warnings to the public. Engineers are also involved in the design and building of flood-prevention systems, such as levees and floodwalls. During the 2005 hurricane season, levees failed in the greater New Orleans area, contributing to the vast flooding and destruction of the historic city. In the associated activity, students learn how levees work, and they build their own levees and put them to the test!
Students develop an understanding of air pressure by using candy or cookie wafers to model how it changes with altitude, by comparing its magnitude to gravitational force per unit area, and by observing its magnitude with an aluminum can crushing experiment.
Students develop their understanding of the effects of invisible air pollutants with a rubber band air test, a bean plant experiment and by exploring engineering roles related to air pollution. In an associated literacy activity, students develop visual literacy and write photograph captions. They learn how images are manipulated for a powerful effect and how a photograph can make the invisible (such as pollutants) visible. Note: You may want to set up the activities for Air Pollution unit, Lessons 2 and 3, simultaneously as they require extended data collection time and can share collection sites.