Decimal Downpour

Contributor
AIMS Education Foundation
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Activity , Lesson/Lesson Plan
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

In this lesson, students make a prediction about annual precipitation in their local area, and then use normal precipitation data for each month of the year from an internet source to create a bar graph of that data.  Normal is defined as a 30-year average, generally three consecutive decades.   As a challenge, the students could add a line graph of the most recent year’s data over the bar graphed normal data to compare and contrast the data. If the teacher would like to use a more visual demonstration, an alternate suggestion for this activity is to obtain a fluorescent tube cover and seal one end with duct tape.  Students use a yard stick to measure the tube and fill it with the annual normal amount of precipitation.  This could also be done with the recent year’s amount of precipitation.

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • Middle School
  • Upper Elementary
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Available for purchase - The right to view, keep, and/or download material upon payment of a one-time fee.

Performance Expectations

3-ESS2-1 Represent data in tables and graphical displays to describe typical weather conditions expected during a particular season.

Clarification Statement: Examples of data could include average temperature, precipitation, and wind direction.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment of graphical displays is limited to pictographs and bar graphs. Assessment does not include climate change.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Using internet sources, students will complete a data table and graph the normal monthly amounts of precipitation for their local area. Normals are defined as 30-year averages. Every ten years in the US, the updated averages are computed from data collected by the National Weather Service. Some of the links with this resource no longer work. The most current 30-year averages are from 1981-2010 and can be found using the NOAA National Center for Environmental Information website: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web/search Use the search option to find normals – Dataset: Normals Monthly; Date Range: it will give you one option; Search For: choose how you want to search your location; Search term: city, zip or text to describe how you chose to search. Click on Search. You will get options of locations to add to your cart. When done, click on the cart in the upper right. Choose your format – pdf. Then enter your email address and submit. The file will be sent to you as a download. From this file you can get the information for precipitation that you want to use with students. As an option, students can also use the fluorescent light tube to provide a visualization of annual precipitation. In doing these activities, students see the typical amount of precipitation in their local area both monthly and annually.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students use the graph they created to describe the normal precipitation amounts for each month and to predict the likelihood of precipitation in different months.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
To complete part B with recent data (which can also be found in these datasets on the NOAA National Center for Environmental Information website), use the search option to find individual year data – Dataset: Global summary of the Month; Date Range: choose starting and ending date; Search For: choose how you want to search your location; Search term: city, zip or text to describe how you chose to search. Click on Search. You will get options of locations to add to your cart. When done, click on the cart in the upper right. Choose your format – pdf. Then enter your email address and submit. The file will be sent to you as a download. From this file you can get the information for precipitation that you want to use with students. Students can graph this data in a line graph on top of their bar graphed normal to showing how data might vary from year to year compared to the normal.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
In graphing both the normal precipitation as well as recent precipitation, students notice that variance occurs. An option that would make this idea of variance clearer would be to group students giving them different year’s precipitation data within the 30-year dataset and have them compare their line graphs with each other.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The graph is a model of recorded average precipitation over a 30-year period. With these records, future weather can be predicted. The discussion questions ask students to analyze the graph for patterns and to use them to predict the likelihood of precipitation during different times of the year.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The discussion questions ask students to analyze the graph for patterns and to use the patterns to predict the likelihood of precipitation during different times of the year.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: Students are collecting data in their local area making it relevant to their lives. The lesson explicitly uses and integrates the elements of the science practices of Analyzing and Interpreting Data and Developing and Using Models, elements of the Disciplinary Core Idea Weather and Climate and elements of the crosscutting concept of Patterns to build proficiency in the performance expectation. Since it was written prior to the standards release, it does not have specific standards connections identified.

  • Instructional Supports: Relevance in the lesson is in the local data collection by students. The lesson provides key questions, focus, background, materials list, management or preparation tasks, the procedure, discussion questions and an extension as well as prepared activity sheets with blank data tables and graphs for students to record the data. The lesson is dated for 2008 and the links in the management section are outdated. A suggested new link is NOAA National Center for Environmental Information website: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web/search See directions to create datasets to fit your needs. In addition, the lesson gives the option for students to do just the graphing of normal precipitation (Option A) or to add the line graph with a year’s precipitation data (Option B). The graphs are in tenths of an inch. #4 under the Procedure for Option A suggests helping students round to tenths of an inch or giving students the rounded numbers if it is not developmentally appropriate for them to do it themselves. If the teacher would like to provide a more visual demonstration, filling the fluorescent tube with annual precipitation is also an option. Finally, the extension suggests having students collect and graph data for a second location for comparison. Option B and the extension strengthen this activity in all three dimensions.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: There is no provision for monitoring student progress; however, a teacher would be able to do so by checking graphs and listening to student observations and responses to questions.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: There is no technology used in this resource.