Whether you like it or not, weather affects everyone. So it’s no wonder that National Weatherman’s Day is an annual celebration!
Meteorologists aren’t just around to tell us how warm or cold it is outside; they actually influence our daily decisions such as what we wear or the activities we do. National Weatherman’s Day (we prefer National Weatherperson’s Day) is observed on February 5 to commemorate the birth of John Jeffries, one of the United States’ first weather observers — long before The Weather Channel came around. To make sure your students appreciate the work of meteorologists, try some of these activities in your classroom to celebrate this STEM-friendly holiday.
1. Ask the Expert
Almost every town or county has a local weatherperson, so why not invite them to your classroom to celebrate National Weatherman’s Day? After giving a presentation and taking questions from the students, they will learn that the man or woman reporting the weather does much more than stand in front of a screen and point to areas on a map. The science involved is crazy!
Follow up by having your students predict weather patterns for your hometown for the following week.
2. Design a Snowflake
Since it’s snowy in many areas of the country in February, take the activity of designing a snowflake by cutting it out of paper up a notch. First, discuss with the students how the shape of snowflakes is influenced by the temperature and humidity of the atmosphere. In fact, all snowflakes can be classified into one of 35 categories.
Next, have your students create a paper snowflake. The twist? They have to present to the class what type of snowflake it is and what weather conditions caused it to form this way. At the end, you’ll have plenty of snowflake creations to decorate the classroom with!
3. Prepare for Flooding
Tell your class they are designing a new housing development, but first they have to test the location’s soil to make sure rain won’t flood the new buildings. In small groups, have the students test different soil samples and decide which would hold water the best and which could contribute to flooding. They will be amazed by how much this non-weather factor can influence weather-related disasters.
4. Make a Psychrometer
As any weatherperson would know, a psychrometer is an instrument that can help you forecast the weather by measuring the relative humidity of the air. To make, secure two thermometers to a piece of cardboard, wrapping one with gauze dampened with water around the bulb of one thermometer. The device is then swung through the air.
Water evaporates from the gauze as the instrument moves through the air and cools the wet bulb thermometer. The two thermometers will now have different readings based on the air temperature, the air pressure, and the amount of water vapor already in the air.
Have students use these numbers to calculate the relative humidity. What better way to celebrate National Weatherman’s Day than actually acting like one?
5. Calculate Windchill
Anyone who has watched the weather segment of the news has heard the term “windchill,” and anyone who has stepped outside on a windy day knows it can make it feel much colder than it really is.
Have students put two hot cups of tea in the microwave until boiling. Make sure they start at equal temperatures, then put one in front of a fan and one away from any drafts. Every 10 minutes, have the students take the temperatures of each cup of tea and graph the data. Figure out how the windchill affects the cooling of the tea and discuss why.
Experiments and discussions about weather may seem basic at first, but when the students realize how much it changes their lives, they’ll be beyond intrigued. Who knows? One of your students may end up on the local news giving a weather report one day!