A CIESE Realtime Data Project

Lesson #3 Collecting Weather Data and Keeping a Weather Log


Over a period of two weeks students will use their instruments each day to measure and record weather data. Students will analyze the data for patterns and trends.

After completing this lesson, the students will be able to:

  • Keep a weather record
  • Collect data about weather
  • Interpret information on a chart or table
  • Use computational skills to interpret data
  • Draw conclusions and identify a trend from collected data
  • Use observations and prior knowledge to make predictions
  • Summarize results


  • Weather logs/notebooks, one per group
  • Weather instruments
  • Wall chart for daily weather data
  • Chart paper for discussion notes
  • Compasses

Time: Students should collect weather data every school day for a two week period. Allow 5-10 minutes each day for the students to make and record their observations and an additional 15-20 minutes for discussion and posting their information on the class chart.

Teacher Preparation
Schedule a two week period during which the students can go outside at the same time each day( late morning, early afternoon is best) and collect the weather data.

Prepare a "weather calendar" for the time period during which students will be collecting data. The simplest way to do this is to construct a calendar facsimile with a large (at least 6"x6" or 15cm x15cm) block for each day of the collection weeks on a large piece of oaktag

Activity #1 Make A Weather Learning Log
For this activity, do the following:

Tell the students that they are now going to go out and use the instruments that they have made and that they will be recording their measurements every day in a log. The log will be an important tool because they will use it to record other information as time goes on.

  1. Distribute a notebook/composition book to each group and direct them to put the names of each group member in it. They may want to decorate the cover and they may decide to take turns illustrating each page as they complete it.
  2. The students will have practiced how to read and record measurements with each instrument, but they should decide on a standardized way to report sky conditions. Students can work in groups to come up with some ways of reporting cloud cover, if any. The class should come to a consensus as to the words (cloudy, partly cloudy, overcast, etc.) they should use to identify skies that are not clear.
  3. Discuss how to make entries into weather log (students in each group can take turns making entries, but all should go outside and participate in the data collection) Emphasis should be placed on making careful observations and recording them accurately in order to facilitate sharing of the information.
  4. Each page should be set up the same way:
    Sky: (Clear, partly cloudy, overcast with openings, overcast, etc.) as determined by students
    Wind: (Their perception- calm, light, etc.)
    Wind Direction: Use wind vane
    Wind Speed: How many times the anemometer spun
    Precipitation Type: (At data collection time) Rain,drizzle, snow, etc.
    Precipitation Amount: In last 24 hours
  5. The teacher should go outside with the groups and lead them through the first entry; then they should be able to do the data collection themselves.

Activity #2 Be A Weather Watcher
For this activity, do the following:

  1. Each day the students will go outside and take and record their measurements. In the classroom they will share their findings and complete wall charts as a group.
  2. For third grade and lower, the teacher can find the mean (average) of their thermometer, rain gauge, and anemometer readings to post on the chart. Fourth graders should be able to find the average themselves. Fifth grade students may be familiar with finding the median and the mode. If so, it would be a good math tie-in to have them post these figures as well.
  3. Provide time for a discussion about wind speed and their anemometer readings. Ask questions such as: What are the wind conditions today? Can you make a statement connecting the number of spins of your anemometer and the speed of the wind?
  4. Suggest to the students that they try their anemometers under different wind conditions and make a chart showing the relationship between the number of times their anemometer spins and how strong the breeze is. Find out how many times it spins with a gentle breeze? A strong breeze? They should be able to predict how many times their anemometer will spin under different wind conditions.

Activity #3 Welcome To The Weather Underground
"The Weather Underground" is the site that the students will be using for their real time data activities. After the students have had a few days of experience using their logs to record their weather observations, they can be introduced to the site and shown how to find and record two pieces of data, namely temperature and sky conditions. Depending on the classroom and equipment capabilities, this may be done as a small group or whole class activity. Try to do this activity immediately after the students have collected and charted their own data for the day.
For this activity, do the following:

  1. Log on to The Weather Underground web site.
  2. Explain that "Current Conditions" means that the report is updated frequently, in this case approximately every two hours.
  3. Find your state on the US map (or scroll down to the list of states) and click on it. Then click on the city that is closest to yours.
  4. You will see the current conditions for that city and the time they were reported.
  5. Tell the students that they will see several pieces of data reported, but that, for now, they will look only at the temperature and sky conditions since that is the data they have been collecting themselves.
  6. Check the temperature and conditions for that day. Have the students compare those readings to the readings they have just taken themselves.
  7. Ask: Are your temperature and sky conditions the same as reported on the web site? If not, can you think of any reasons why they're not the same?
  8. Set up a schedule, either by group or individual, whereby a student or students will be responsible for retrieving the temperature and sky conditions from The Weather Underground at the same time every day. The student(s) will also report to the group after they come together to share their own weather instrument readings for the day.
Activity #4 How Does The Weather Change?
For this activity, do the following:
  1. After two weeks of collecting weather data have passed give the students some independent time to look at the charts and make notes on patterns, trends, or anything else that interests them. They can then refer to these during class discussion.
  2. Have a whole class discussion where students analyze charts for patterns and trends. Elicit ideas from students and write responses on the chart. Ask questions such as: In general, how did the weather change during the week? How would you describe the weather for the two week period? Does the temperature seem to be going up, down, or staying the same? Was there any relationship between the wind and the temperature the next day? Was it colder on cloudy days? Was it colder on days that the wind was coming from the north and warmer when the wind was coming from the south?

Suggested follow-up activities

  1. Students work with a partner to compose three questions about the data they have collected, for example: What was the coldest day? The day with the most rain? The windiest day? Swap questions with another pair.
  2. Students use the charts to compose word problems to practice their computational skills. For example: What was the difference between the temperature of the coldest day and the warmest day?
  3. Students make bar or circle graphs showing the number of sunny, cloudy and rainy days.
  4. Students make line or bar graphs to show the temperature of each day.
  5. Students make a chart showing the temperature of each day. Illustrate each day with a picture.

Extension Activity
Students will take the temperature outside their house at the same time on a given day.


  1. Obtain a map of your town showing the streets where the students live.
  2. Choose one day on which the students will record the temperature outside their houses at the same time. One suggestion is to take the reading in the morning before they leave for school, probably between 7:00AM and 8:00AM. The Teacher will record the temperature at the school.
  3. Students plot the temperature for their house on the town map. Examine the map for trends and discuss possible reasons for them.