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  • Middle School

    Weather and Climate

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

Performance Expectations

  1. Collect data to provide evidence for how the motions and complex interactions of air masses results in changes in weather conditions. MS-ESS2-5

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  2. Develop and use a model to describe how unequal heating and rotation of the Earth cause patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation that determine regional climates. MS-ESS2-6

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  3. Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century. MS-ESS3-5

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

A Peformance Expectation (PE) is what a student should be able to do to show mastery of a concept. Some PEs include a Clarification Statement and/or an Assessment Boundary. These can be found by clicking the PE for "More Info." By hovering over a PE, its corresponding pieces from the Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts will be highlighted.

Science and Engineering Practices

Asking Questions and Defining Problems

Asking questions and defining problems in grades 6–8 builds from grades K–5 experiences and progresses to specifying relationships between variables and clarifying arguments and models.

Developing and Using Models

Modeling in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to developing, using, and revising models to describe, test, and predict more abstract phenomena and design systems.

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

Planning and carrying out investigations to answer questions or test solutions to problems in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to include investigations that use multiple variables and provide evidence to support explanations or design solutions.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

By clicking on a specific Science and Engineering Practice, Disciplinary Core Idea, or Crosscutting Concept, you can find out more information on it. By hovering over one you can find its corresponding elements in the PEs.

Planning Curriculum

Common Core State Standards Connections


  • RST.6-8.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts. (MS-ESS2-5), (MS-ESS3-5)
  • RST.6-8.9 - Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic. (MS-ESS2-5)
  • SL.8.5 - Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest. (MS-ESS2-6)
  • WHST.6-8.8 - Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation. (MS-ESS2-5)


  • 6.EE.B.6 - Use variables to represent numbers and write expressions when solving a real-world or mathematical problem; understand that a variable can represent an unknown number, or, depending on the purpose at hand, any number in a specified set. (MS-ESS3-5)
  • 6.NS.C.5 - Understand that positive and negative numbers are used together to describe quantities having opposite directions or values (e.g., temperature above/below zero, elevation above/below sea level, credits/debits, positive/negative electric charge); use positive and negative numbers to represent quantities in real-world contexts, explaining the meaning of 0 in each situation. (MS-ESS2-5)
  • 7.EE.B.4 - Use variables to represent quantities in a real-world or mathematical problem, and construct simple equations and inequalities to solve problems by reasoning about the quantities. (MS-ESS3-5)
  • MP.2 - Reason abstractly and quantitatively. (MS-ESS2-5), (MS-ESS3-5)

Model Course Mapping

First Time Visitors

Resources & Lesson Plans

  • More resources added each week!
    A team of teacher curators is working to find, review, and vet online resources that support the standards. Check back often, as NSTA continues to add more targeted resources.
  • Air Masses and Fronts is a detailed lesson plan from Better Lesson in which students study the movement of air masses across North America and how their interactions cause weather to change. The lesson begins with a split tank demonstration to illust ...

  • In this case study designed by the Purdue Climate Change Research Center, students interpret data about the link between the burning of fossil fuels, levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and global warming. Students answer focus questions and c ...

  • Synoptic meteorology is the study of large scale weather systems providing a broad view of the weather at a particular time and location. In this lesson, students determine the location of weather systems and draw trend lines on basic weather maps pr ...

  • Weather Lab is an online interactive tool, or app, that helps students visualize how North America’s weather is formed in the Spring. The app models the interactions between various air masses and ocean currents and describes probable weather o ...

  • Next Generation Climate contains six lessons on climate change for middle school students. In the curriculum, the students investigate causes of global temperature change, research the major repercussions of climate change, and find out how they can ...

  • Engaging in Argumentation with a Science Seminar: Regional Climate in the Atacama Desert is a three-day lesson in which students apply their understanding of how ocean surface temperatures, prevailing winds, and topography affect regional climates th ...

  • Students construct climographs showing both precipitation and temperature for 3 coastal cities and describe how ocean surface currents affect climate on nearby land. They are provided with the research question, “Do ocean currents influence cli ...

  • Through a simple interactive online model, students learn about the relationship between carbon dioxide emissions, carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere, and average global temperature. The simulation predicts changes throughout the 21st century b ...

  • This computer-based learning module engages students in questions that scientists around the world are exploring about Earth’s climate. They gain an appreciation for how much is not known about the Earth and climate change. The module contains 5 acti ...

  • This interactive tool allows students to gather data using My NASA Data microsets to investigate how differential heating of Earth results in circulation patterns in the oceans and the atmosphere that globally distribute the heat. They examine the re ...

  • This is Activity 12 of a set of Level 1 activities designed by the Science Center for Teaching, Outreach, and Research on Meteorology (STORM) Project. The authors suggest that previous activities in the unit be completed before Activity 12: Air Masse ...

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Planning Curriculum gives connections to other areas of study for easier curriculum creation.