Robert Fitzroy was one of the first meteorologists. While most science concentrates on explaining events in the past and present, meteorology is concerned with weather patterns and our ability to predict what will happen with the weather in the near – and not so near – future.

Download a pdf of the instructions here.

You will need...

Make a rain gauge:
A round plastic 2L drink bottle.  Ones with a flat base, like squash bottles, are best.
A piece of string.
A ruler.
Sticky tape.
A measuring jug or measuring cylinder.

Take the temperature:
A thermometer, ideally one that measure both the maximum and minimum temperature.
A plastic box big enough to fit the thermometer in it.
White paper (or white paint that will stick to the plastic box).
Sticky tape.

How long will it take?

It will take only half an hour to make the rain gauge and thermometer box, but the experiment can run over weeks or months.  At the end you may want to take time to look at the weather patterns and compare them measurements made in previous years.

What to do...

1.  Have a look at the instructions in the students section.

NB: Meteorologists use 'height of rainwater collected' when measuring rainfall. In the students' section they are asked to measure just the volume of rainwater collected as a proxy for this. For more able pupils you might like to get them to calculate the height of rainwater, using the formulas in the extension section below.

2.  Use the BBC weather page for your area and make a note of the official readings of the expected minimum and maximum temperatures.

3.  Plots graphs of the students' data, and compare this with data taken by the Met Office in previous years.

You can get rainfall data for your part of the country from the Met Office:
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadukp/

And temperature data:
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcet/

The UK monthly summaries from the Met Office:
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/

 

Extension for 'make a rain gauge' experiment

For more able students, you can get them to work out the height of rainwater collected (this is the measure that meteorologists use).

Measure around the drink bottle, around two thirds of the way up, using a piece of string.  Hold the string around the bottle and mark how long the string needs to be to go around it once.  Use the ruler to measure the length of this string - this will tell you the circumference of the bottle.

You can work out the rainwater collecting area by using the circumference of the bottle.

First find the radius, using the measurement of circumference (in cm):

radius

Now use this measurement of radius (cm) to find the area (in cm2)=

area
And now find the height of water collected each day, using the measurement of area and the amount of rain collected each day (from your measurements in cm3):

 height
Height of water collected (cm) =

 

The Met Office usually tells us how much rain falls using millimetres (mm) of rain, not centimetres (cm).  How would you change your reading in centimetres to a reading in millimetres?

Fill in a table that looks like this:

Date and time

Amount of rain collected

height of water (cm)

height of water (mm)

Did it rain a lot that day?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curriculum Links

Science:

Working Scientifically

 

Lower key stage 2 Year 4
States of matter

Numeracy:

Measurement

 

Statistics

 

 Scottish Curriculum

Science

SCN 2-05a

Planet Earth - Processes of the planet.

Mathematics 

 

MNU 2-11c

Number, money and measure - Measurement

 

MNU 2-20a

Information Handling - Data Analysis

Interpreting and drawing conclusions from the information displayed. 

 

 

MNU 2-20b

Information Handling - Data Analysis

Devising and using a variety of methods to gather information and working with others to organise and communicate results appropriately.

Social Studies

 

SOC 2-12a

People, place and environment

 

Hotter and hotter

earth_300

 

Scientists today are looking at how the climate is changing around the world.  The weather changes so much from day to day that it is sometimes difficult to see an overall pattern, so they must find averages for the weather in a single month, or in a single year.  These scientists can compare the average with other years and see if one year has been hotter or wetter than another.

This is how scientists change weather observations into climate observations.  

 

 

Make a rain gauge

Download a pdf of the instructions here.

You will need...

A round plastic 2L drink bottle.  Ones with a flat base, like squash bottles, are best.
Sticky tape.
A measuring jug or measuring cylinder.
Scissors.

What to do...

rain gauge_2001.  Cut the top off the bottle.  Turn the top upside down and put it inside the remainder of the bottle.  This forms a funnel going into the bottom of your bottle.

2.  Stick the two sections together.  Leave a very small hole between the two sections or cut a small hole near the top of the container so that the water can be emptied at a later date.  You may need an adult to help with this. You now have your rain gauge.

4.  Put the rain gauge in a place where it won't be sheltered (not under a tree).  3ou may need to put some rocks around it to make sure it stays upright and doesn't blow away.

4.  At the same time every day empty any water from the rain gauge into the measuring cylinder.  Make a note of how much water you find each day.

Fill in a table that looks like this:

Date and time

Amount of rain collected

Did it rain a lot that day?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take the temperature

You will need...

A thermometer, ideally one that measure both the maximum and minimum temperature.
A plastic box big enough to fit the thermometer in it - an icecream tub is good, with no lid.
White paper (or white paint that will stick to the plastic box).
Sticky tape.

What to do...

1.  Cover the inside of the box with white paper (or paint it white).  This stops it from absorbing too much heat from the Sun.

2.  Fix the thermometer into the box with sticky tape.

3.  Place the box in a shady place - somewhere that doesn't get direct sunlight during the day - and point the open side of the box away from wind and the rain. 

4.  Take a reading from the thermometer at the same time every day for a number of days, at the same time as you make your rainwater measurements.  Make a note of the temperature.  Then reset the thermometer (they usually come with a magnet that allows you to move the column of liquid back into the bulb)so you can measure the temperature the next day.

 5.  Once you have taken your readings for a few days, you can start to plot them on a graph.  Each day add your new data. 

The rainfall graph should look something like this...

rainfall graph

The temperature graph should look something like this...

 temperature graph

6. You can compare your results with data from previous years.