One of the most useful and exciting aspects of each P2K project is the way in which the Internet allows teachers to share ideas with other teachers--even those geographically remote from each other, who would likely never meet in person. This section of the website pulls together comments from members of the LIVE FROM THE STORM development team, and other educators with extensive experience in teaching weather and climate. Many of them appeared first in DISCUSS-STORM, but some of them were specially prepared for... TEACHER TIPS!

See other Teacher Tips in the Interact: Researcher Q&A Section

Recording Daily Weather Data
Tim McCollum, 8th grade science, Charleston Middle School, Charleston, IL

   One very productive and meaningful weather activity we just completed involved having the students record daily weather data for a period of several weeks. We started each class period by having the students log the current conditions for that day and time. Measurements included temperature, wind chill, air pressure, relative humidity, dew point, wind speed and direction, and sky conditions. My students collected their local data off the University of Michigan "Weather Underground" web site. Depending upon available resources, teachers could also provide such data through a school weather station, the Weather Channel on TV, or other Internet sites. (You'll find links to The Weather Underground, Datastreme and USA Today on the LIVE FROM THE STORM home page.)

   At the completion of the data collection period, the students constructed line graphs of several of the recordings. We focused on temperature, wind chill, air pressure and wind speed. By having the students plot all of the lines on the same graph, they could analyze the results and look for patterns of how certain weather factors influenced others. They were each to arrive at five observations from their graphed data. To aid in the analysis, I used a spreadsheet program to plot the same graphs and printed them on separate transparencies. I was then able to compare different combinations of weather measurements on the overhead projector and the students could clearly see connections between factors. Connections between air pressure and wind speed, air pressure and sky conditions, temperature and wind chill, wind chill and wind speed, and others became apparent through this activity.

   A picture is worth a thousand words. Try it!

back to top

Teaching Weather and Climate: It's Always the Right Season!
Charlie Lindgren,
8th grade science Gates Intermediate, Scituate, MA & Project Director, "Weathergate"

   Of all the units that we science teachers implement, weather is the one that should have no time constraints. I had a couple of schools tell me they couldn't do my Weathergate project because they "do weather" in the spring! In reality, something is always happening weatherwise. I'm fortunate, weather is taught in our 6th grade and I teach climate in the 8th, but I stress the type of newsworthy weather that is happening in this country and around the world, whenever it happens.

   Weather is our common denominator. It controls our life. The clothes we wear, if we go on the picnic, when and where we go on vacation, if the house is still there the next day, it's all generated by weather. Yes, your school might tell you to teach the weather unit in the spring, but don't pass up the chance to talk about that hurricane in the fall.

   That's all for now. It's time to slide down the driveway over the rain changing to sleet changing to snow back to freezing rain!

back to top

Tips on How to Collect Questions for "ON-AIR"
Eileen Bendixsen, 7th grade integrated science, Hazlet, NJ

   I begin class with a discussion on some of the topics that will be covered during the broadcast. (UPDATES carries a preview of the content and sequences a few days in advance: this gives me, as a teacher, a heads-up even if I'm watching live.) This helps get students thinking about questions and also gives them enough information to ask questions.

   We also discuss what type of question you would ask a scientist. I give them examples which can be drawn from previous projects, or RESEARCHER Q&A, and discuss the different tips for asking a good question.

   Each student is given an index card. I give them about ten minutes to write down a question. They can brainstorm with other students at their lab table and often lab partners will submit a question together.

   After they have written their questions we brainstorm as a class. I have volunteers read their questions and we discuss them. Instead of rejecting questions, or saying that isn't a "good" question, we brainstorm together to rewrite them into one that would be acceptable to use.

   I collect all the index cards--make sure names are on all the cards. On the day of the broadcast I flip through the cards to locate the best questions to submit based on how the program is going, and the other questions coming in from around the nation. I also will submit questions from students who could use that special honor and motivation of having a scientist answer their question. Having the questions on the cards makes it easier to submit my questions in a short period of time.

   The day after the broadcast, I read the questions that were submitted and the answers to each of my classes. The students whose questions were submitted are given a copy of the message to keep. The students include their e-mail messages in their WEATHERLogs and sometimes I give extra credit points on their project grade.

   I usually dedicate a class period to do this. I feel the process of writing a good question is equally as important as the factual content of the answers. We put together our questions during the week before the broadcast and I continue to accept additional questions up to the day of the broadcast.

   During LIVE FROM THE RAINFOREST my students researched a plant or animal in the rainforest for their "A Day in the Life..." reports. Many of them still had questions they were not able to answer during their research. They were thrilled to be able to submit these questions and receive answers from scientists at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC!

back to top

What Makes "ON-AIR" Motivational?
Eileen Bendixsen and teacher participants in previous PTK projects

   There have been many messages posted to DISCUSS-SUN and DISCUSS-LFRF and sent privately about the reactions of students to receiving an answer to their ON-AIR question from a scientist. There was the quiet student in the class who had little success all year and the beatific smile on her face when she received a response to her question. Or the difficult, unmotivated class that came alive during this interaction with scientists.

   These are just a few of the comments we've received about student reactions to participating in ON-AIR:

  My students nearly fell out of their chairs when S___'s question got answered online. This was a really neat experience for this girl, as school hasn't always been the best experience for her. Today the county music teacher came up to me and told me he had watched it from home and was amazed to hear that a student from our county had a question answered by a scientist. It really brings the learning experience home. Please also thank the scientists for answering the student's questions on-line.

   I think that this is one of the key elements to the program--access to scientists that will work to help students find the answers to their questions. We discuss the questions and answers in class. One of the responses from Mr. Ireland was that they don't yet have the answer yet but with the help of SOHO, hope to discover the answer. I really appreciated the discussion that followed in my class about the "process" of discovery that is so important in science. I want my students to feel free to experience and experiment with science and to not expect every answer to be found in a text.

   It was also neat for the students to "see" the scientist that they had read about in the LIVE FROM THE SUN Website. Each student was required to read about, write about and share information about one scientist. They were very pleased that "their scientist" was part of the broadcast.
Ginny Dexter,
Hydesville School, Hydesville, CA

   The broadcast yesterday was excellent. The children were impressed that their questions were answered so promptly. We are turning our room into a rainforest, researching animals, listening to tapes of rain forest sounds... Thanks for all the hard work!!!
Amanda Buice,
Lamar Co. Elementary

   I loved this new format of submitting ON-AIR questions. My kids were excited to see responses so quick. They really felt connected to the scientists at the Smithsonian.
Marilyn Kennedy Wall,
Wayland Elementary, Bridgewater, VA

back to top

One way to use the LFSTORM site with younger students
Ginny Dexter, Hydesville School, CA


Science with Mrs. Dexter
Go to Website: http://passporttoknowledge.com/storm


  • Click on WHO: Choose and read one biography of a scientist who studies weather. Describe how and what they do. Minimum 10 sentences.

  • Choose one FIELD JOURNAL and read and then write about one scientist's adventure in studying weather. Minimum 10 sentences.

  • Click on WHAT: Choose one type of WEATHER to read and report on. Find out what causes the weather condition and report on it. Minimum 15 sentences. Choose one area of CLIMATE to read and report on. Minimum 10 sentences.

  • Click on WHERE: Choose 5 states to report the significant weather events of 1999. Write a complete sentence for each state describing the event.

  • Click on WHEN: Choose one Weather condition and discover the times of year when you can expect to see this condition. Report on one its likely pattern. Minimum 10 sentences.

  • Click on WHY: Choose one interesting aspect of weather and explain the phenomenon. Minimum 10 sentences

back to top