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Interdisciplinary Task: Weather
Task with Student Directions

3rd Grade Performance Task
Developed by: Maryland Department of Education
Maryland School Performance Assessment Program, 1992


(Students follow introduction as teacher reads aloud.)

Scientists who study the weather are called meteorologists. These scientists have been observing and recording weather information for many years. They build and use many kinds of equipment to help them measure and record their observations. By studying this information and comparing it with weather observations collected at other times of the year scientists learn about the seasons and help us understand the weather.

During the next five days you will be a weather scientist. You will be observing the weather, recording your observations on a chart you design, and studying the weather information you have collected. You will also be using a thermometer and an instrument you will be building to help make your weather observations.


Activity 1

Your teacher will be taking you outside to observe today's weather. If you were a meteorologist or a weather scientist, how would you describe today's weather to another scientist? When you return to your classroom list at least four features of today's weather.

Activity 2

Soon you will be starting to make daily observations of the weather. You need to design a chart to use for recording your observations. Now work with a group of your classmates to list below all the different kinds of weather information that you might want to include on your chart. You will have a thermometer to use to include temperature on your list.

Activity 3

Now, working alone, design a chart or table that you will use to record your weather observations for the next five days. Include on your chart at leat four weather features from you group list.

Bridging Activity

You might have included wind speed on your chart. If not, add wind speed to your chart now. Then look at these instructions for building an anemometer and answer the questions that follow.

Say: When you use directions to build something, it is a good idea to read and think about them carefully before you start. Here are some directions for building an anemometer and some questions to answer before using the directions.

To make your anemometer do these things:

1. Tie a knot in one end of your string.

2. Measure 30 centimeters from the knot and tie another knot.

3. Place the other knot against the foam ball and tape the string to the ball.

4. Let the ball swing freely in the wind and observe the line on the anemometer outline where the string crosses. This is the number you can use to find the wind speed.

Activity 4 - Global Understanding

Why are anemometers useful for observing the weather?

Activity 5 - Developing Interpretation

What is the purpose of the foam ball?

Activity 6

What is the relationship between the wind and the position of the string?

Activity 7 - Developing Interpretation/Personal Response/Critical Stance

Are the directions clear enough? Explain why or why not.

Activity 8 - Developing Interpretation/Critical Stance

Why do you think the author showed a chart with the picture of the anemometer?

Activity 9 - Developing Interpretation/Personal Response

Is there any other information you think you would need to build and use this anemometer?

Activity 10

Now, here is a different set of directions for making an anemometer. Read these new directions. Then, use either set of directions or both sets of directions to build a wind vane.

1. Cut out the anemometer outline and glue it to a piece of cardboard.

2. Tie a knot in one end of a piece of string.

3. Measure 30 centimeters from the knot and tie another knot.

4. Place one knot against the polystyrene ball and tape the string to the ball.

5. Place the other knot on spot marked "KNOT" on the anemometer outline and tape it to the outline. The string should follow the line between the "KNOT" and the "0" on the outline.

6. Aim your anemometer into the wind so that the ball swings freely. Read the number that the string crosses. Then use the chart to get the wind speed in miles per hour.

Activity 11

Your teacher wants to know how you built your anemometer. Write a report for your teacher identifying which set of directions you used or whether you used both set of directions. Explain the reasons for the choice you made. Tell in your report what was helpful in each set of directions and what was a problem in each set of directions. Because your report will be read by your teacher, be sure it is clear and complete. Also, check for correct spelling, punctuation, grammar, and capitalization.

Activity 12 - Language Use

Your friend is confused about how to build an anemometer. In order to help your friend you have decided to write your own set of directions for building an anemometer which will be easy for your friend to follow. Use information from either or both sets of directions that were given to you and what you learned as you built your own anemometer in order to help you write a clear set of directions for your friend. Because the directions you write will be read by your friend, be sure your directions are clear and complete. Also, check for correct spelling, punctuation, grammar, and capitalization.

Activity 13 - Personal Response/Critical Stance

How is the model you build different from the illustrations of the anemometer in the sets of directions?

Activity 14 - Personal Response/Critical Stance

Each day for the next five days go outside to make your individual weather observations including temperature and wind speed and then record them on your chart. Finish all of your observations before continuing this task.

Activity 15 - Personal Response/Critical Stance

Last year the students decided that it was important to make their observations at the same time each day. Explain why this might be important. Include an example of what might happen if each day you changed the time of your observations.

Activity 16

Select one of the weather features you have been observing and make a graph of the information you have collected.

Activity 17

Get together with members of your group. Compare your weather observations and measurements with those of other members of your group. Are any of your results very different from someone else's? If so, describe that difference and explain why that might have happened.

Activity 18

The local television station has invited you to represent your class and appear on television to inform viewers about what you have learned about the weather. Write a script that you will read informing the television audience about the weather conditions you have observed and recorded. Be sure to explain how the weather has been the same or different from what you would usually expect for this time of year. Also, use information from the anemometer you made and from the observations you recorded on your weather chart as you write an interesting and informative script to read for your television audience.



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