Air and Weather

Next Generation

Resources by Investigation

Resources by Investigation
Investigation 1: Exploring Air
Students explore properties of a common gas mixture—air. Using vials, syringes, and tubing, students experience air as matter, discovering that it takes up space and can be compressed, and that compressed air builds up pressure that can push objects around. They construct and compare parachutes and balloon rockets that use air.
Investigation 1, Part 2: Parachutes
Students construct and observe parachutes dropping through air. They think about how air slows the descent of the parachute. They design and test a parachute to land a cargo container gently without spilling the contents.
Investigation 1, Part 3: Pushing on Air
Students use syringes to investigate air. They discover that air can be compressed and that air under pressure can push objects around.
Investigation 1, Part 4: Air and Water
Students put together tubes, a bottle, water, a rubber stopper, and two syringes to create a system. They add water and use air pressure to push the water around the system.
Investigation 1, Part 5: Balloon Rockets
Students set up a balloon-rocket system and find out how far the air in the balloon will propel the system along a flight line.
Investigation 2: Observing the Sky
Students use instruments for 4–8 weeks to observe and record weather on a class calendar and in science notebooks. Students monitor temperature with a thermometer and (optionally) rainfall with a rain gauge. They learn to identify three basic cloud types by matching their observations with a cloud chart. They also monitor times of sunrise and sunset and record the number of daylight hours each day.
Investigation 2, Part 1: Weather Calendars
Students share what they know about weather and how it relates to air. Rotating class meteorologists begin recording daily weather observations on a class calendar. Students use symbols to indicate five basic types of weather.
Investigation 2, Part 2: Measuring Temperatures and Daylight
Students learn to use a thermometer and take turns measuring and recording the temperature. They construct a model thermometer and practice reading various temperatures. They monitor sunrise and sunset and record the total number of daylight hours each day. They collect data on temperature changes during the day.
Investigation 2, Part 3: Watching Clouds
Students observe and compare several types of clouds and discuss how they move across the sky. The class discusses the kinds of clouds that bring rain or snow. Students can use a rain gauge to measure rain or snowfall.
Investigation 2, Part 4: Observing the Moon
Students discuss their observations of the day and night sky, and begin to make systematic observations of the Moon. The observations will continue during the daytime and nightime for 4 weeks.
Investigation 3: Wind Explorations
Students look for evidence of moving air. They observe and describe wind speed using pinwheels, an anemometer, and a wind scale. They observe bubbles and construct wind vanes to find the wind’s direction. Students fly kites to feel the strength of the wind and the direction it is moving.
Investigation 3, Part 1: Bubbles in the Wind
Students use bubble wands to blow bubbles outdoors. They investigate how the air moves bubbles in a variety of locations around the school building.
Investigation 3, Part 2: Wind Speed
Students go outdoors to feel and observe the wind. They are introduced to a descriptive wind scale (an adaptation of the Beaufort scale) and an anemometer, an instrument used to measure wind speed.
Investigation 3, Part 3: Pinwheels
Students construct a pinwheel and observe how it operates when they blow on it, move it through air, and take it outdoors in the wind. They compare the action of the pinwheels to the class anemometer.
Investigation 3, Part 4: Wind Vanes
Students learn about wind vanes, instruments used to indicate wind direction. Students compare the movement of the wind vanes to that of bubbles and clouds.
Investigation 3, Part 5: Kites
Students construct kites. They use the anemometer and wind vane to determine the best location and direction for flying kites.
Investigation 4: Looking for Change
Students organize monthly weather data, using graphs to describe weather trends. They continue to monitor weather throughout the year, comparing the seasons and looking for weather patterns. Students use the observations they have recorded on the calendar to look for monthly patterns of the Moon and annual patterns of daylight hours.
Investigation 4, Part 1: Change over a Month
Students organize and graph the class weather data recorded over a period of 4 weeks. The class can continue recording the weather on the calendar and then graph the following month. Students also revisit the Moon calendar and look for patterns over the month.
Investigation 4, Part 2: Daylight through the Year
The class looks at the amount of daylight on the same day of each month over the year. Students describe the pattern they observe and predict the number of hours of daylight on their birthday that year. They compare the actual hours to their predicted number of hours.
Investigation 4, Part 3: Comparing the Seasons
The class moves from recording weather data on a calendar to creating seasonal graphs of the weather and temperature. Each season, the class creates new graphs and compares them with graphs from the preceding seasons.