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Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Indigenous Education Worldwide

Lessons & Units

A database of lessons and units searchable by content and cultural standards, cultural region and grade level. More units will be available soon. You can use Acrobat Reader to look at the PDF version of the Cover Sheet for the Units and Self-Assessment for Cultural Standards in Practice.


by Jonas Ramoth and Sidney Stephens

II. Understanding Wind

It is assumed that as students spend time observing the weather, they will come up with questions about the weather, which interest them greatly. While some of these questions will undoubtedly relate to developing proficiency with forecasting and to dealing with weather-related issues of travel and safety, other questions will probably relate to developing a more sophisticated understanding what causes the wind. The following chart indicates some of the connections that can be made between local knowledge, student questions and science concepts.

Local Observations

Possible Investigations

Possible Science Concepts

Alaska Science Standards

-wind direction, speed, temperature









-snow movement/drift pattern







-cloud cover
-cold as a relative factor

-influence of wind and cold on human and animal behavior


-What causes the wind?
-Why are west winter winds cold?
-Why are east winds warmer than west winds?
-What is surface wind?
-How is surface wind different than atmospheric wind?


-Why are west winds erratic and gusty?
-Why do east winds create consistent drifts?
-How can drift patterns aid in navigation?


-Why are clear winter days colder than cloudy winter days? Is this also true for summer?

-How does weather affect animals?
-Do all animals respond similarly to the same temperature?
-What kind of weather is best for hunting and trapping?






















A-1 (structure and behavior of matter)
A-4 (Earth/weather)
A-8 (heat transfer)
B-1 (Process skills)














A-12 (diversity)



These questions can be investigated in at least two constructive ways: inquiry and/or guided discovery. If an inquiry approach were taken, students would identify their own question with regard to winds/weather and pursue it intensely through a combination of research and experimentation of their own design. If a guided discovery approach were taken, the teacher would set up a series of activities designed to enable students to develop an understanding of the driving forces behind wind.

To enable either approach, the following series of guided discovery lessons are focused on developing conceptual understanding of local winds as a building block to understanding the whole of the atmospheric cycle. Central to this is an understanding of heat transfer including the concepts of convection, absorption and radiation as related to the creation of both local and global winds. These lessons assume some understanding of the nature and behavior of matter and molecules in the solid, liquid and gaseous states. They also assume some familiarity with the concept of density.



Section I - Observing Locally

Section II - Understanding Wind

Section III - Connecting Globally

Appendix A - Selawik Weather Information from Jonas Ramoth

Appendix B - Assessment

Appendix C - Weather Resource List

Appendix D - Interdisciplinary Integration



Whouy Sze Kuinalth
"Teaching Our Many Grandchildren"
Tauhna Cauyalitahtug
(To Make a Drum)
Math Story Problems
St. Lawrence Island Rain Parka Winds and Weather Willow
Driftwood Snowshoes Moose
Plants of the Tundra Animal Classification for Yup'ik Region Rabbit Snaring
The Right Tool for the Job
Fishing Tools and Technology
Blackfish Family Tree
Medicinal Plants of the Kodiak Alutiiq Archipelago Beaver in Interior Alaska Digging and Preparing Spruce Roots
Moose in Interior Alaska Birds Around the Village  


Handbook for Culturally Responsive Science Curriculum by Sidney Stephens
Excerpt: "The information and insights contained in this document will be of interest to anyone involved in bringing local knowledge to bear in school curriculum. Drawing upon the efforts of many people over a period of several years, Sidney Stephens has managed to distill and synthesize the critical ingredients for making the teaching of science relevant and meaningful in culturally adaptable ways."



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Alaska Native Knowledge Network
University of Alaska Fairbanks
PO Box 756730
Fairbanks  AK 99775-6730
Phone (907) 474.1902
Fax (907) 474.1957
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Last modified August 18, 2006