Student Activity Page
(Work with one or two other students)


There are a wide variety of weather images available on the Internet and a great many uses for these images. Use the web sites in RESOURCES  to acquire as many images as you can to create your own image library.  You can use this library to;  study different weather features, illustrate your own reports on weather,  determine weather trends and compare weather features in various places in the world to find similarities and differences.  All of these activities will make you more knowledgeable about the weather.

   1 . Acquire the weather site on the web from RESOURCES or any other source.
    2. Choose which type of image you want; clouds, lightning, tornadoes, etc.
    3. Some image types are just pictures illustrating features, while others are part of a CONTINUING SERIES  of pictures such as those of clouds over large surfaces of the Earth. These can be used to make ANIMATIONS, which show the effects of change in the weather, over the time the pictures have been taken. The nightly weather report on the evening news uses that day's pictures to make short animations for you to see trends in that day's weather.
    4. Make a plan as to what kind of images you want. Decide what type of images you are going to collect and what your collection schedule will be.
    5. The pictures illustrating weather features such as lightning and tornados can be printed up on special paper so they can be posted on the wall in your class-room or printed on overhead transparency sheets made for ink jet printers. The better the quality of the paper the more the detail you get. Also the higher the quality of the paper , the more it costs. The paper printouts can also be kept in a three ring binder for reference by other students. The overheads can be used by you or your teacher to show everyone your pictures.
6. Save your pictures onto a floppy disk or recordable CD as part of your general image library. The sequential cloud picture in particular should be saved in this way for later use in a computer animator. When you see the moving cloud pictures on the evening news, they last for only a few seconds because only a limited number of pictures can be taken each day. The weather satellites take only a few pictures each day. But you can accumulate as many of these images you want for as many days as you wish for your movies. The only problem is that the satellites do not take visible light pictures at night and the clouds are in a new position the next morning !!

  Once you have acquired several images of more than one type, sort them by groups ( cloud pictures, Atlantic Ocean pictures, potential hurricane pictures, etc.). Compare one day's pictures to the next day's to see changes. Where do the clouds originate, where do they go to? What happens when they hit a coast or a mountain range? Combine your general knowledge about cloud formation, altitude and temperature, with what you see, to try to figure out why the clouds form or disappear when they reach a certain boundary. Try to get as much information as you can from your pictures by comparing your cloud pictures with the general topography of that area.  A great many general topography pictures of many areas on earth can be found at Earth Images

 Data Gathering Methods
     To make weather predictions and understand the weather, many different ways of gathering information are used. Collect as much information about as many data gathering tools as you can find and describe in as much detail as you can how each one works. The following table contains many such devices;
Polar orbiting satellite High altitude aircraft ship based stations  space weather observing satellites
Geo-stationary satellite pilot less airplanes weather balloons satellite ground stations
Research air planes Domestic airliners automatic weather stations air pollution monitoring stations
International commercial airliners weather buoys ground based observation stations rain gauges

   There are many different types of weather images for you to  collect . Once you have collected them for a few days you need to make an image ARCHIVE.  This consists of your collection of images  filed together in a notebook in some sort of manner that you can find things later. You might want to put all the cloud pictures together according to date or the hurricane pictures according to the strength of the hurricane. Perhaps you want every thing listed alphabetically. What ever organizational method you select, stick to it and start to enjoy your collection. The first time someone asks you to look up something for a report and you are able to find it will make all your efforts worth while. One of the things you can do with a series of pictures which are arraigned according to date is put them in an animator and make your own weather movies. An animator is a piece of soft ware which displays each image, one after the other, with a very short time in between, just like a movie.
    If you monitor a daily weather site on the Internet, you can get the weather for your school. Ask if you can post the day's weather picture in a prominent place each morning before you put it in your archive.. You may wish to share this duty with other students. This would be a great opportunity to start a WEATHER CLUB.

Cloud maker:

    The equipment you will need for this lab is:
            A  large glass bottle you can turn up side down and a rack to hold it
            A  wet sponge you can push into the bottle
            Some crushed ice in a plastic bag you can put on the top of your upside down bottle
            A camera to take pictures of your clouds
            Some matches or oiled paper to make smoke

     To make your clouds:
               Wet the sponge with hot water and poke it into your bottle
                Turn the bottle up side down and place it in the rack
                Put the bag of ice on the top of the bottle and make it very cold.
                Light a couple of matches and poke them into the bottom of the bottle . When they go out, the smoke particles they make will help your clouds to form. Very tiny micro droplets of water condense on each particle, eventually becoming big enough to reflect light. When the droplet density in the air in the bottle is big enough, you will see the cloud.
                 The colder the bottle, the better your chances are of seeing a cloud.

                If you drape a piece of black cloth or paper behind the bottle, you can see the clouds more easily and take better pictures. Get out your camera and take pictures of your clouds. If you take digital pictures, you can turn up the contrast to make them easier to see with a image processor in your computer.
            If you can collect a lot of moisture from your large sponge, you may be able to make it RAIN in your bottle. You need a very large container to do this and you must condense a lot of evaporated water. If you make a big chamber and put enough DRY ICE on the top, maybe you could make it SNOW ! Make the smaller one work well before you invest the time and effort into building a big chamber. It's very difficult to make it snow in the bottle.

Making Your Very Own Tornado

            Method One ( Water )
                Equipment needed:
                    One three liter water bottle, empty and clean
                    A bucket to collect the water
                    Water to fill the bottle
                    Maybe a little coloring for the water  and/or  a light to light up the water
                    A camera ( either still or video ) to take pictures of the 'tornado'

                    Fill the bottle full of water
                    Turn it upside down over the bucket and let the water flow out
                    Observe the swirling mass of water and air bubbles inside the bottle as the water leaves.
                    Take pictures of the swirling water
            Visit this site to see how to do it     vortex

        Method Two ( Moist Air)
                You must build the special box illustrated in the picture. The bigger the box, the better the results. Visit the Exploratorium in San Francisco to see one six feet tall that you can get inside!
                The idea is that warm moist air underneath is made to rise up to the ceiling by the fan at the top. The air inside the chamber is pulled out, making a low pressure zone inside the chamber. The slotted holes in the sides of the chamber allow ambient air to enter from the sides. The rising, moist air from underneath carries the sideways moving air from the sides up and the result is a rising, swirling air mass which exits the chamber at the top. There are no chambers in the atmosphere to make tornadoes but you might want to find out what a WEATHER CELL is and how it functions like a closed system.


    Vacuuming the Air

                The objective of this lab is not to clean the air, it's to collect the dust in the air, so you can see what you are breathing.

            Equipment needed:
                    An ordinary household vacuum cleaner
                    Some  modeling clay
                    Two or three plastic drinking cups, all the same size ( Styrofoam or plastic will do)
                    A box of  facial tissues
                    A 6 in by 6 in square of  stiff window screen
                    A sharp knife and scissors to cut a hole in the cup and to cut the screen

                    Cut a 1 in round hole in the middle of the bottom of one of the cups
                    Cut a piece of screen big enough to cover the hole and put it in the bottom of the cup over the hole
                    Cut a piece of tissue big enough to cover the screen and put it over the screen.
                    Cut a matching hole in the second cup and place the second cup in the first, so as to hold the screen in place.
                    Make a half inch clay rim around the end of the vacuum cleaner hose so as to make a good seal with the inside of the cup.
                    Put the cup assembly ( it is now a filter) over the end of the hose and push the clay into the bottom of the cup so as to make a good seal
                    Turn the vacuum cleaner on for five minutes
                    Turn off the vacuum and examine what you have collected on your tissue paper.
                    Take several samples some with longer times, and in different locations
                    Use new tissue paper each time and make a record of all you do; how long you ran the vacuum, where the sample was taken, what time of day,
                    what you saw in the air that might be in your sample.
                    You can preserve your samples by spraying them with hair spray or putting transparent tape over top.
                    You can try to examine what is on your filter paper by looking at it with a powerful microscope. Look for pollens, dust and animal hairs

                Take a plastic water bottle and drill a hole through the plastic cap, just large enough for a cigarette to fit in.
                Cut  about six inches off of the bottom of the bottle.
                Screw the cap back on the bottle.
                Insert one of your filters into the top of the bottle so that you can pull air through from a burning ( unfiltered ) cigarette
                Light the cigarette and place it in the hole in the cap
                Place the clay covered end of the vacuum hose in the filter and turn on the vacuum cleaner, allowing the smoke from the cigarette to be collected in your filter.
                Examine what you have collected from the cigarette. Get read to hold your nose !!!
                Imagine all of what you have collected being collected in your lungs every time you smoke a cigarette.


      Hurricane Hunter:
             Visit one of the sites in RESOURCES which give daily cloud cover pictures of the Earth's surface. Collect pictures of  the clouds over two or more tropical areas such as around the Caribbean Islands. Collect pictures and carefully examine them  for several weeks. Carefully examine the pictures for "swirls",  clouds which rotate 180 degrees or more. If you see a cloud area which has a rotating air mass of more than 270 degrees, go back to it later and examine the next picture coming up. If it rotates a full 360, you may have found a tropical storm about to turn into a hurricane. Keep watch and see if you can recognize the shape. If you visit the web sites listed here about past hurricanes, you will know what they look like.
        Continue monitoring your suspected hurricane. If it clearly turns into a rotating air mass, visit the NOAA site and see if it has acquired an official name. Watch its progress and try to predict if and where it will hit land. Watch the evening news and/ or the Weather Channel to see its progress.
        Make a report in class on how and when you discovered your hurricane.
        A  very exciting web site for hurricane watchers is HURRICANE HUNTERS. This site is put up by the military service that actually flies large airplanes through live hurricanes to find out what conditions are inside them! They have current pictures from that day of what it looks like inside the hurricane. Also they have a lot of very informative sites telling you all about hurricanes. They also have great satellite pictures of hurricanes as they happen.

      Cloud Chaser
                When you have studied cloud pictures long enough, you will become familiar with the predominate air flow patterns over the areas you study. Examine other areas, such as  the East and West Coasts, and over the Northern  and Southern  borders of the United States to see where our  weather comes from. If you study long enough, you find that the wind changes direction for different times of the year. Weather in other parts of the world influences which way our wind blows, also.
        Does air usually flow Southward or to the North?
        Does it blow to the east or  west?
        If  weather is coming from the North, does it stay the same or change on the way to where you are?
        Use your cloud picture collection to learn as much as you can about air movement on a global scale.
        Does air usually do the same thing each day or does it frequently change direction?
        Co-ordinate the Jet Stream air flow pattern with the winds on the earth's surface and see if there is a connection.
        Once you have found the predominant flow patterns for winds for your area, look at where your weather is coming from, how fast it's moving and try to predict when it will arrive. This is the job of the weatherman, to predict the weather !

         Be the weather person for your school. There are various ways you can do this.
                                a. Set up a WEATHER SHOWCASE for your school.
                                b. Place daily pictures in the case.
                                c. set up a place where you can post  ' today's weather'  each morning
                                d. Take some of your favorite weather pictures and post them there.
                                e. Make a place for ' weather feature of the week' '. Write a brief description of the feature and post a picture
                                F. visit other classes and make reports on the weather
                                G. Visit your local weather station and talk to the weather person who is in charge.
                                H. Ask a weather person to come visit your school to
                                        a. talk to your class
                                        b. See what you have been doing
                                I. Try to start an e-mail dialog  with a weather person at some far away place, like the south pole!
                                J. Make your own predictions about the weather and post them. See if you are as good as the tv weatherman.

            On-Line Data Sharing
         While the pictures you get from the net are the same for every one, the data you collect about weather at your own school is not. It is unique to your school and may even be a little bit different on one side of your school than on the other. If you can form a partnership with several other schools where each school in the partnership agrees that they are going to measure the same weather factors, perhaps; maximum temperature, air pressure and cloud cover,  you can merge all the data into one big data-base.  Each day, or perhaps every Friday, each school sends its data to all the other schools. When you get all your e-mail, you compile all that week's data and make a weather map showing all the information over your geographic area.
                        This is just how the weather people collect their data to report the weather to you, only they have automated weather stations that automatically send the weather information every hour all day and night to a central collecting center and graphing software that automatically makes maps which display all the data.
                        What can be a lot of fun to witness, is when a WEATHER FRONT moves through. Usually the differences in temperature and pressure aren't much between nearby schools. But when a front moves through, there can be big differences and high winds because of these differences. Sometimes, when the temperature drops suddenly, the rain comes and with the wind, it's quite an event!

           Automated Weather Station

                Perhaps, once your school has gotten into weather observation and reporting, you may be able to purchase your own weather observation station and connect it to your computer for automated data gathering. Once you set up all the probes (temperature, wind, humidity, air pressure, rain, etc. )  you must tell the computer how often you want it to take the measurements. For instance you might want the data taken every half hour. Once you set that value, it's all done automatically. The data is collected by your station and every week or so, you download it onto the hard drive of your computer. When you tell it to, the computer will make graphs which you can print out, save or send to your partner schools.
    Looking at temperature and pressure graphs at the same time can give you an idea about changes in the weather. Looking at several days of temperature graphs can show you the daily temperature change pattern at your school.  Each day it's cold in the morning, gets warm at mid-day and then cools off in the night and this pattern is repeated every day. All this information makes it possible for you to make predictions, both short range and long range, for the weather at your school.



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