A CIESE Realtime Data Project

Enrichment Activity 3: What happens at night?

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You will will use real time weather data to investigate what happens to air temperature at night.


Activity #1 As the World Turns

  1. Use the class room map to find some of the countries in these locations.
  2. Access the World Time Zone Map or the Official Time and have students find their location and time zone. Ask: 
    • Could it be daytime in one part of the world and night time in another?
    • Explain why or why not.
    • Where does the sun rise first, Mexico City or Madrid, Spain?
    • How do you know?
  3. Lead the class in a simple rotation simulation to demonstrate what causes day and night. Put a piece of paper on a globe to mark your location. One student will hold the globe and another the flashlight to simulate the sun. Have the student holding the globe  spin it counterclockwise. Have the students identify places on the opposite side of the globe that will be having night while they are having day. They should make the observation that, as the earth rotates, new parts of it come into the sun's light.
  4. Look at the Global Montage world map and answer the following questions:
    • When was this map was created (time and date)?
    • What time is this in your time zone? (GMT refers to the same time zone as UTC)
    • List three items you see on it (you may return to the map to review it).
  5. Go to the Earth Viewer map showing the current day and night regions and answer the following questions:
    • Which part of the world is experiencing night right now?
    • Which part is experiencing day?
    • Where is the sun rising and setting?
    • Compare the Earth Viewer map with the Global Montage map. What similarities do you notice?
    • Based on your comparison, what effect do you think day and night have on temperature?

Activity#2 Highs and Lows

  1. Answer the following questions:
    • How much do you think the temperature changes each day?
    • Will the temperature be the same tonight as it is this afternoon?
    • What effect does the sun have on the temperature?
    • At what time of day would you expect the highest temperature to be? Why?
    • At what time of day would you expect the lowest temperature to be? Why?
  2. Access the Weather Underground and go to the Current Conditions for your areaAsk: 
    • What is the current temperature?
    • Are the high and low temperature listed? (No).
    • When will we know the high and low temperature for the day? (tomorrow)
  3. Tell the students that this site will have the high and low temperatures for today available for viewing tomorrow and that they are going to try to predict at about what time of day those temperatures will occur by looking at previous data.
  4. Go to the Weather Underground.  Access History and Alamanac  to view the data from the previous day Look at the high and low temperatures for the day and then check on the chart on the bottom to find out at what time they occurred. Students should record the high and low temperatures and the times they occurred.
  5. Students should then use the site to access the weather data from the last five days. They should record the high and low temperatures and the times they occurred. Ask whether or not they notice any pattern in the data. (The students will discover that the highest temperatures usually occur in the afternoon and the lowest between midnight and dawn).
  6. Students will predict the approximate times that the current day's high and low temperatures will occur.

The following day: Check the high and low temperatures for the previous day on the Weather Underground. How close did the students' predictions come to the actual times given for the high and low temperatures for the day? 
Ask the students to think of some things that could change the time of day at which the high and low temperatures occur (Clouds, storms, wind patterns, etc.).

 Extension: Making A Graph
Have the students choose a day (their birthday, a holiday) and access the historical data for that day. They should plot the times (horizontal axis) and temperatures (vertical axis) on a line graph. They should then analyze the graph and write a statement about the relationship between the two factors they plotted.