How to Teach Students About Winter Weather
Oh, the weather outside is frightful. Students come to school bundled in layers like they’re all the children of Mother Parker. Sidewalks are icy. And your teacher colleagues are counting down the days until the holidays. Winter is picking up, and it’s definitely not the most enjoyable time to be a teacher.
However, with the chilly temperatures, whistling winds, and dancing snowflakes, comes an opportunity to get students engaged with science. Teaching kids of all ages about winter weather is a great way to help them make connections between the real world and the classroom. Keep reading to get inspired for this winter season.
Make It About Them
As most teachers know, sometimes the best way to get students’ attentions is to make the lesson about them, right? Get students engaged with the science of what winter weather does to their bodies.
As students to think about how their bodies respond to cold temperatures, winds, snow, and other winter conditions and them have them research why. Let students get creative after their research. Depending on your curriculum, you could have them create brochures, write papers, or even inform the rest of the school of helpful tips during the morning announcements. The opportunities are limitless.
Investigate Solids, Liquids, And Gases
One of the most beautiful aspects of winter is snow. The tiny little white flakes can be a pain when it comes to commuting and shoveling, but most students just focus on how pretty it makes everything look (and the opportunity for no school!) However, the plunging temperatures make a great backdrop for fun experiments. There are a number of experiments you could try, but make sure to do some of these on your own and to warn students not to try some of these at home.
- Watch as throwing boiling water into the air freezes to teach the Mpemba effect
- Take a water bottle outside and see how quickly it freezes. You can do this on multiple days to show the difference between a 30-degree day and a -10-degree day
- Freeze an egg and/or an orange to investigate how things freeze differently
Use Weather Lesson Plans
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a tool that helps you teach the weather? WeatherSTEM is that tool. Not only does it have lesson plans for the winter climate in a number of different states, but there are dozens of data points. Data mining is a skill that most students will need in their future education and eventually in their careers.
WeatherSTEM makes it easy for teachers and students alike to investigate different meteorological conditions, graph points, and identify trends. We recommend that for the winter, you take a look at temperatures and wind speeds during the winter months and compare them to other seasons. Then, year by year, you can have new classes add their data and compare to previous years. It’s the project that keeps on giving. You can also have students use the historical data you create to predict what the next year will be like.
This is the prefect project for budding scientists. You can add a school weather station to your campus to help students get even more involved.
Make A Snow Gun
Get your engineer-minded students engaged with a hands-on science project. While there most likely is plenty of snow on the ground, that shouldn’t stop students from wanting to build their own snow gun. Put together some lesson plans explaining the science behind real snow and fake snow, like the kind ski resorts make to keep operations rolling. Then, have students build their own snow gun.
An easy type is a low pressure machine that makes a small amount of snow. You can learn how to make one here. If you’ve done a project like this before with your students and care to share, please comment below and we’ll help you get your experiment out there to other teachers!
Know Your Heat Source
It’s important for students to be problem-solvers, right? Get them to investigate heat sources throughout the winter to see which is most effective at keeping us warming and saving energy. This is perfect for high school students. You could set up a project that has students compare their home heating source to the schools. You could also assign a project where they offer a plan for improving their school’s heating system. This project uses the weather to get students thinking about big picture items.
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Do you have any other ideas that you’ve used in the past to teach students about winter weather? Let us know about them in the comments below. Remember to subscribe to the blog to get more lesson ideas and other helpful information no matter the season.