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Program Wildest Weather in the Solar System

Directions

Activity 1: Extreme Weather on Our Planet

Photo: Dramatic lightning flashes over water

Students use prior knowledge, a photo gallery, and a video to discuss what they already know about extreme weather on Earth and brainstorm a list of weather-related words. Then they organize the information they learned about weather events and conditions present for each type of weather event, and compare and contrast weather events and conditions.

Activity 2: Extreme Weather on Other Planets

Photo: Planets in solar system

Students compare ways of investigating weather on Earth and on other planets in our solar system. They use a video to discuss which different types of weather information might help us understand what the environments are like on each planet. Then students compare and contrast weather conditions for planets in our solar system.

Activity 3: Measuring Weather with Tools

Photo: A traditional wind or weather vane with a rooster on top

Students use prior knowledge to brainstorm instruments scientists use to measure weather. They use a photo gallery to identify what weather conditions each instrument measures. Then students play a game to match illustrations of instruments that measure weather with descriptions of each instrument.

Activity 4: Discover Space Probes

Illustration: New Horizons space probe flies by Pluto

Students watch a video about space probes and discuss the function of space probes. They use a photo gallery to compare and contrast different structures and equipment of probes, and make connections between the different structures and purposes of space probes. Then students use an interactive diagram of the Cassini space probe to imagine what instruments they might include on a probe of their own design.

Activity 5: Design Your Own Space Probe

Illustration: An interplanetary weather satellite

Students imagine they are scientists or engineers designing a new space probe to explore our solar system. They choose a planet, review its weather factors, and use a rubric to gather information, make a plan, modify and/or test their plan, and create their design. Students conduct peer evaluation and revise, publish, and present their designs.

Objectives

Subjects & Disciplines

  • Mathematics
    • Applied mathematics
    • Geometry
  • Science
    • Astronomy
    • Earth science
    • Engineering
    • Meteorology
    • Space sciences

Objectives

Students will:

  • list the criteria and conditions required for weather events to occur
  • describe weather conditions on other planets in our solar system
  • describe climate, or weather patterns
  • determine which instruments would be helpful on other planets
  • use peer review to strengthen the design

Teaching Approach

  • Learning-for-use

Teaching Methods

  • Brainstorming
  • Cooperative learning
  • Discussions
  • Hands-on learning
  • Multimedia instruction
  • Research
  • Simulations and games
  • Visual instruction

National Standards, Principles, and Practices

NCTM Principles and Standards for School Mathematics

National Science Education Standards

Preparation

What You’ll Need

Materials You Provide

  • Drawing paper
  • Dry erase markers
  • Glue sticks
  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Safety scissors

Background & Vocabulary

Background Information

The term weather describes conditions in the atmosphere over a short period of time. Climate describes weather patterns of a particular region over a longer period, usually 30 years or more. Climate is an average pattern of weather for a particular region. Identifying patterns in the atmospheric conditions of extreme weather events can help you understand Earth's weather system.

 

On Earth, weather is measured using a variety of instruments, including thermometers and barometers. Scientists and astronomers are interested in learning more about weather beyond Earth—on other planets in our solar system that have extreme environmental conditions. Before exploration takes place, even via remote sensing by unmanned space probes or satellites, scientists and engineers must consider environmental conditions such as weather. They must design equipment that can handle extremes of temperature, wind, and other factors. Designing or developing any type of scientific instrument is a complex process. Scientists and engineers make many modifications and changes, even during the drawing stages. This careful engineering will allow them to send unmanned devices to explore space and transmit data about weather from space by radio or other means.

 

 


Prior Knowledge

    Recommended Prior Lessons

    • None


    Vocabulary

    Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry

    air pressure

    force pressed on an object by air or atmosphere.

    anemometer

    a device that measures wind speed.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'anemometer', 'id': 290, 'title': u'anemometer'}

    atmosphere

    layers of gases surrounding a planet or other celestial body.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'atmosphere', 'id': 320, 'title': u'atmosphere'}

    barometer

    an instrument that measures atmospheric pressure.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'barometer', 'id': 52, 'title': u'barometer'}

    blizzard

    storm with high winds, intense cold, heavy snow, and little rain.

    dust storm

    weather pattern of wind blowing dust over large regions of land.

    engineer

    person who plans the building of things, such as structures (construction engineer) or substances (chemical engineer).

    extreme weather

    rare and severe events in the Earth's atmosphere, such as heat waves or powerful cyclones.

    flood

    overflow of a body of water onto land.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'flood', 'id': 323, 'title': u'flood'}

    hail

    precipitation that falls as ice.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'hail', 'id': 166, 'title': u'hail'}

    hurricane

    tropical storm with wind speeds of at least 119 kilometers (74 miles) per hour. Hurricanes are the same thing as typhoons, but usually located in the Atlantic Ocean region.

    lander

    space probe designed to land on a moon, planet, asteroid, or other celestial body.

    mean

    mathematical value between the two extremes of a set of numbers. Also called the average.

    meteorologist

    person who studies patterns and changes in Earth's atmosphere.

    model

    image or impression of an object used to represent the object or system.

    moon

    natural satellite of a planet.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'moon', 'id': 61, 'title': u'moon'}

    observation

    something that is learned from watching and measuring an object or pattern.

    orbit

    path of one object around a more massive object.

    orbit

    to move in a circular pattern around a more massive object.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'orbit', 'id': 232, 'title': u'orbit'}

    planet

    large, spherical celestial body that regularly rotates around a star.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'planet', 'id': 70, 'title': u'planet'}

    rain gauge

    device for measuring rain or other forms of liquid precipitation, usually in millimeters. Also called a precipitation gauge, udometer, pluviometer, or ombrometer.

    satellite

    object that orbits around something else. Satellites can be natural, like moons, or made by people.

    sling psychrometer

    device for measuring humidity that uses two thermometers: one measures the air temperature while the bulb of the other is kept cool and moist. The sling psychrometer is whirled around until moisture from the wet bulb evaporates.

    solar radiation

    light and heat from the sun.

    solar system

    the sun and the planets, asteroids, comets, and other bodies that orbit around it.

    space probe

    set of scientific instruments and tools launched from Earth to study the atmosphere and composition of space and other planets, moons, or celestial bodies.

    temperature

    degree of hotness or coldness measured by a thermometer with a numerical scale.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'temperature', 'id': 77, 'title': u'temperature'}

    terrain

    topographic features of an area.

    thermometer

    device that measures temperature.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'thermometer', 'id': 291, 'title': u'thermometer'}

    thunderstorm

    cloud that produces thunder and lightning, often accompanied by heavy rains.

    tornado

    a violently rotating column of air that forms at the bottom of a cloud and touches the ground.

    transmit

    to pass along information or communicate.

    unmanned

    lacking the physical presence of a person.

    visibility

    the ability to see or be seen with the unaided eye. Also called visual range.

    weather

    state of the atmosphere, including temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind, humidity, precipitation, and cloudiness.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'weather', 'id': 101, 'title': u'weather'}

    weather satellite

    instrument that orbits the Earth to track weather and patterns in the atmosphere.

    wind speed

    force and velocity of wind.

    wind vane

    device that rotates to show the direction the wind is blowing. Also called a weather vane.

    Credits

    Media Credits

    The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

    Activity 1 Credits

    Writer

    Anna Mika, M.S. Ed., NASA Network of Educator Astronaut Teachers (NEAT)

    Editor

    Christina Riska, National Geographic Society
    Anne Haywood, National Geographic Society

    Educator Reviewer

    Jeanne Wallace-Weaver, Educational Consultant
    Naveen Cunha, M.Ed., Science Teacher, Stephen F. Austin Middle School, Bryan, Texas; NASA/Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow

    Expert Reviewer

    Buddy Nelson, Media Relations, Lockheed Martin Space Systems

    National Geographic Program

    Wildest Weather in the Solar System

    Activity 2 Credits

    Writer

    Anna Mika, M.S. Ed., NASA Network of Educator Astronaut Teachers (NEAT)

    Editor

    Anne Haywood, National Geographic Society
    Christina Riska, National Geographic Society

    Educator Reviewer

    Naveen Cunha, M.Ed., Science Teacher, Stephen F. Austin Middle School, Bryan, Texas; NASA/Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow
    Jeanne Wallace-Weaver, Educational Consultant

    Expert Reviewer

    Buddy Nelson, Media Relations, Lockheed Martin Space Systems

    National Geographic Program

    Wildest Weather in the Solar System

    Activity 3 Credits

    Writer

    Anna Mika, M.S. Ed., NASA Network of Educator Astronaut Teachers (NEAT)

    Editor

    Christina Riska, National Geographic Society
    Anne Haywood, National Geographic Society

    Educator Reviewer

    Jeanne Wallace-Weaver, Educational Consultant
    Naveen Cunha, M.Ed., Science Teacher, Stephen F. Austin Middle School, Bryan, Texas; NASA/Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow

    Expert Reviewer

    Buddy Nelson, Media Relations, Lockheed Martin Space Systems

    National Geographic Program

    Wildest Weather in the Solar System

    Activity 4 Credits

    Writer

    Anna Mika, M.S. Ed., NASA Network of Educator Astronaut Teachers (NEAT)

    Editor

    Anne Haywood, National Geographic Society
    Christina Riska, National Geographic Society

    Educator Reviewer

    Naveen Cunha, M.Ed., Science Teacher, Stephen F. Austin Middle School, Bryan, Texas; NASA/Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow
    Jeanne Wallace-Weaver, Educational Consultant

    Expert Reviewer

    Buddy Nelson, Media Relations, Lockheed Martin Space Systems

    National Geographic Program

    Wildest Weather in the Solar System

    Activity 5 Credits

    Writer

    Anna Mika, M.S. Ed., NASA Network of Educator Astronaut Teachers (NEAT)

    Editor

    Christina Riska, National Geographic Society
    Anne Haywood, National Geographic Society

    Educator Reviewer

    Jeanne Wallace-Weaver, Educational Consultant
    Naveen Cunha, M.Ed., Science Teacher, Stephen F. Austin Middle School, Bryan, Texas; NASA/Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow

    Expert Reviewer

    Buddy Nelson, Media Relations, Lockheed Martin Space Systems

    National Geographic Program

    Wildest Weather in the Solar System

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