Precipitation Towers: Modeling Weather Data

Contributor
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory - California Institute of Technology
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Activity , Lesson/Lesson Plan , Model
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

Students use stacking cubes to create 3D graphs of monthly precipitation data for a city of their choice. They also compare the precipitation averages and seasonal patterns for several locations

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • Grade 3
  • Upper Elementary
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

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 appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Students develop models of precipitation data. They then use this data to determine patterns and compare those patterns from one location to another. This lesson has the potential to meet the PE by including situations such as droughts, floods, and major storms.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students create physical models of precipitation data. The models are then used to consider patterns for particular locations. Students compare models from different locations to describe/predict what conditions occur at each location.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

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
Students model/graph the amount of rainfall (precipitation) in a particular location. Videos are provided for students to consider in addition to the information that they collect from their own research. The videos highlight rainfall situations such as flooding, drought, and the use of groundwater resources. Students could use the information in these videos to supplement their understanding.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The lessons consistently focus on pattern identification and analysis allowing students to determine relationships between different locations and seasons. The lesson would benefit from explicitly addressing models and their systems. Students could create water cycle models highlighting the changes that are occurring based on the amount of rainfall.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The lessons consistently focus on pattern identification and analysis allowing students to determine relationships between different locations and seasons. Students can use the evidence they gather to make claims about weather patterns.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This lesson is three-dimensional. It targets the disciplinary core idea and the practice of analyzing data. Students collect data and identify patterns (the crosscutting concept) within the data to compare with other locations. A suggestion would be to have students use the data to describe why each of the locations is different.

  • Instructional Supports: The lesson provides opportunities for students to choose which cities they wanted to research, including their own. Three levels of precipitation templates are provided. There are also connections to math, such as graphing, rounding and scaling, as well as calculating range and averages. The lesson could be improved by building on and connecting to student ideas. For instance, at the beginning of the lesson, students could share what they know about how precipitation is measured and recorded. Using local news reports would be a valuable tool to have students explore how the data is used.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Students are asked questions throughout the lesson related to data collection and patterns observed. Discussions take place as a form of formative assessment. Student work is also used to assess student understanding. Additional questions are included to develop a clearer measure of student understanding. No scoring guidance is given and no rubrics are provided.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: The resource does not include a technologically interactive component.