# Please see the Seasonal Changes module description.

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1 Overview Children will measure and graph the precipitation on the playground throughout the year using a rain gauge. Children will also observe satellite images of clouds and begin to investigate how clouds occur in patterns that sometimes result in precipitation. Children will also begin to learn the difference between weather and climate. This lesson is an extension of How Wet Did it Get?, an entry-level lesson. Suggested Lesson Sequence Lesson Level Please see the Seasonal Changes module description. Intermediate Science Connections Students will measure snowfall/rainfall on school playgrounds. Students investigate the concept of density by observing how the depth of snow in a gauge differs from the depth of the resulting melt water. Students learn the difference between weather and climate. Math Connections Children will measure rainfall and/or snowfall in centimeters and millimeters using a rain gauge. Children will make a bar graph of the total precipitation each month. Children will extrapolate measurements from a short (e.g. monthly) time period to a longer (e.g. annual) period. Technology Connections Children will construct a gauge to measure rainfall and/or snowfall. Children will access current satellite images to track weather changes. Lesson Assessment Tools Assessment and Summary Table (Word) Assessment Activity Description (below) Authentic Assessment (below) Materials Plastic Jar (e.g. peanut butter jar) with equal diameter from top to bottom 1 of 7 6/11/2012 2:09 PM

2 2 of 7 6/11/2012 2:09 PM Indelible marker Plastic ruler with millimeter scale Rain Gauge activity sheet one per student Precipitation Bar Graph activity sheet Wet Weather, Wet Climate? interactive slideshow (Powerpoint) How Wet Did it Get? Clouds from the Ground and Space Activity Sheet this slideshow is not meant for students to read through on their own. It is intended to be viewed together, to outline and illustrate a discussion of the lesson's themes, led by the teacher. You might have a different student read each slide's text. Vocabulary Words Centimeter: a unit of length often used to measure small objects. Most pieces of chalk are about one centimeter across. 1 centimeter equals 10 millimeter, and 100 centimeters equals 1 meter. Climate: the average annual or seasonal weather (usually temperature, precipitation, cloud cover, and windspeed) at an area, determined using many years of measurement. Clouds: objects in the sky made out of ice crystals or water droplets. Estimate: a measurement that is not exact. Exact: a very high detail of measurement. Gauge: an instrument used to measure something. Liquid: a wet substance that can easily flow. Millimeter: a unit of length used to measure very small objects. 10 millimeter equals one centimeter, and 1,000 millimeters equals one meter. Precipitation: water that falls from the sky to the ground. Precipitation can be in the form of snow (solid water crystals), ice (solid water crystals), or rain (liquid water). Rain: liquid water that falls from clouds. Snow: solid water that falls from clouds. Snow is made of flakes, or water crystals, that each have 6 points. Solid: a substance that does not flow easily and can stand alone in its form. Weather: the temperature, precipitation, cloud cover, and windspeed that occurs at an area over a short time period. students may be unfamiliar with other vocabulary presented in this lesson. This is done intentionally, to spur additional conversations and discussion about these words and their meanings. Encourage your students to ask about unfamiliar words. Procedure I. Assessing Prior Knowledge

4 4 of 7 6/11/2012 2:09 PM ruler. This template will be used to mark the jar in centimeters with an indelible marker. This template will also be used in conjunction with a mm-scale ruler to help children read and graph the rain or snowfall water amount (see step #8). 3. Place the plastic jar in an open location on the school playground or outside the classroom window that will not be disturbed or blown over by the wind. For example, the jar may be placed in a garden and supported by rocks or bricks. Part A: The First Storm 4. Distribute the How Wet Did it Get? Activity Sheet. As the first rain or snow storm passes, encourage students to draw pictures of the clouds overhead on this Activity Sheet. After the rain/snowstorm, children can observe the amount of rain/snow collected through the clear jar and observe which mark the water level is nearest. The teacher should help the children estimate the amount of rainfall to the nearest centimeter (cm) using the marked scale. At this point, utilize a millimeter-scale ruler next to the cm-scale ruler marked on the activity sheet to determine the water amount to the nearest millimeter. 5. To help children learn to estimate and read the rain/snow fall measurements, the teacher should use the paper centimeter ruler template (see Rain Gauge activity sheet). While observing the amount of water in the gauge, children can make a bar graph by coloring the amount of rain on the paper centimeter ruler. The teacher can then assist students in estimating the amount of water that fell. In the case of snow measurement, try to measure the snow depth before, during, and after melt. Point out that the moisture is becoming more compact, or snow to water., as it melts from 6. On the day that it storms, children may check the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration s GOES website ( to observe satellite images of the clouds and storm systems near your school s location. Choose the area that best corresponds to your location. For the continental United States (CONUS) images, short movies can be viewed by clicking on the icons below the images to show the clouds in motion. This will allow children to observe on the computer how the weather system moves across time and location. For these movies, it is best to choose the infrared option so that the image does not go dark at night. The teacher (or children) can also go to other weather forecasting sites (such as the National Weather Service site at to read the forecast and find out how long the rain or snow will last. 7. Using the How Wet Did it Get? activity sheet, children can now draw a picture of the cloud images they observe, showing the storm system and clouds as viewed from space.

6 6 of 7 6/11/2012 2:09 PM 1. Which month did you get the most rain? Least? 2. From your graph, can you identify a dry season? Wet season? 3. How do you think rainfall (or snowfall) amounts are related to plant growth on your playground? 4. How do satellite images from space show weather patterns that produce precipitation? IV. Assessment Children should be able to record rainfall (or snowfall) in centimeters and millimeters, and graph the monthly precipitation. Children should make inferences about precipitation affects plant growth in a particular area. Students should also be able to describe the difference between weather (a daily event) and climate (an average of many many weather events over the course of seasons and years). Lesson Extensions for Authentic Assessment To account for the variability of rain or snow measurements due to shadowing effects of buildings or trees, place several rain gauges around the playground. Then, using concepts of averaging developed in the Finding the Balance lesson, find the average precipitation that fell for a particular storm or over a particular season. Have students write their own report about the seasonal precipitation that fell in your locality, using all of the vocabulary words presented in this lesson. Explore the concept of measurement with your students. If the gauge had a flaw in it, such as a large bump in its bottom, that made all measurements come out higher than they should be, then the gauge would be biased towards overestimating the actual amount of water. Biases like these can make for large errors when taking any repeated measures and extrapolating them.

7 7 of 7 6/11/2012 2:09 PM Research average rainfall and snowfall amounts with your students for your locality. Then, using weather statistics found on the Internet (such as at choose other locations around the world for comparison. How does your home compare with other sites around the world, in terms of precipitation? With a little additional research on the plant life of your chosen area(s), students will begin to learn how climate and vegetation is linked across wide ranges. Students used a container for a rain gauge that had the same width from top to bottom. What would happen if a rain gauge was larger at the top than at the bottom? Or vice-versa? How would the measurement scale need to be changed? Conduct an experiment with your children to show how different gauge designs will affect the readouts of equal amounts of precipitation, and change the scale bars appropriately. The process of comparing measurements from a known instrument to measurements from an unknown instrument is called. Calibration is a critical step to ensure the accuracy of measurements taken using many types of scientific instrumentation.

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