Step by Step Weather Observations
Grade Level: 4-9
Source: National Weather Service,
Adapted with permission.
We can read about, hear, or see weather reports every day on the radio,
television, Internet, or newspapers. Some of this information includes
current air temperatures and highs and lows for that day.
As a citizen scientist, you can take your own air temperatures with an
outdoor thermometer and compare your readings to the official ones from
the National Weather Service. It is important that you follow the correct
procedures, however, for placing your thermometer. This activity will
help you to do that, as well as find out what the normal yearly average
temperature is for each day.
For a group of four:
- Notebook to record observations
- Outdoor thermometer and place to mount it
- Access to weather data online
- Set up your outdoor thermometer so that it is out of the sun and
away from any sources of hot or cold air from your house or school.
Plan to record your temperatures at 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., if possible
- Set up your notebook so that you are recording days, times, and temperatures
in a table.
- When you take your readings for the day, go to the national weather
map at www.weather.gov/forecasts/graphical/sectors. Click on your geographic
region, then find the temperature data.
- How close were your temperature readings to those on the map? How
could you explain the differences between your observations and the
- If your readings are very different from the official ones for your
area, check the placement of your thermometer. It might be that your
thermometer is in an area where it is getting too much sun or is close
to an air-conditioning unit.
- Continue to record your air temperatures over two weeks, checking
them against the official readings each day.
- Tour the National Weather Service Web site to find out what the average
high temperatures and low temperatures were for each of the days you
measured the air temperature. Overall, was the weather warmer than average
or cooler? How could you explain that?