Culturally Responsive Science Curriculum

Appendix block

Winds and Weather Sampler1

Authors: Elder Jonas Ramoth, Selawik; Sidney Stephens, Fairbanks


Grade Level:



Winter-Long Investigation

Cultural Standards

B2: Make effective use of the knowledge, skills and ways of knowing from their own cultural traditions to learn about the larger world in which they live

D1: Acquire in-depth cultural knowledge through active participation and meaningful interaction with Elders

Skills and Knowledge

  1. Develop respect for Elders and others who have learned to read the weather.
  2. Recognize that weather cannot be controlled and must be respected.
  3. Develop the habit of frequently observing the weather and noting specific signs, changes and patterns that are important for their area.
  4. Use local weather knowledge and skills to make decisions about how to prepare and dress for weather conditions and how to travel and conduct activities safely.
Science Standards

A4: Understand observable natural events such as tides, weather, seasons and moon phases in terms of the structure and motion of the earth.2

B1: Use the processes of science; these processes include observing, classifying, measuring, interpreting data, inferring, communicating, controlling variables, developing models and theories, hypothesizing, predicting and experimenting

B2: Design and conduct scientific investigations using appropriate instruments.

C3: Understand that society, culture, history and the environment affect the development of scientific knowledge.

Skills and Knowledge

A. Understand that differential heating of air masses produces both local breezes and global winds. (SA4)

B. Understand that global patterns of atmospheric movement influence local weather. (SA4)

C. Understand that the sun is the major source of energy for phenomena on the earth’s surface and that seasons result from variations in the amount of the sun’s energy hitting the surface, due to the tilt of the earth’s rotation on its axis and the length of the day. (SA4)

D. Make qualitative and quantitative observations, interpret data and use this information to explain everyday phenomena and make predictions. (SB1)

E. Design and conduct an investigation of local weather using appropriate tools and techniques. (SB2)

F. Describe how local history, culture and environment have affected the development of scientific knowledge. (SC3)

Math Standards

A2: Collect, organize, analyze, interpret, represent, and formulate questions about data and make reasonable and useful predictions about the certainty, uncertainty or impossibility of an event.

Skills and Knowledge

A. Collect, analyze, and display data in a variety of visual displays. (MA2)

B. Interpret and analyze information found in newspapers, magazines and graphical displays. (MA2)


Unit Overview


The simplest way to define weather is as the condition of the atmosphere at a given time and place. And while this definition readily conjures up a range of factors like rain, snowfall, wind speed and direction, temperature and so forth, such a definition also reduces one of nature’s most powerful forces to a series of measures which most consumers of weather would recognize but fault as inadequate. Ask a poet, a flood survivor, a meteorologist, a farmer, or a trapper about the weather, and you’d get a lot more than individual measures. Ask an Elder and you’d get a lifetime – a lifetime of observations, of stories, of values, of connections between man, the natural world and weather.

Traditionally, weather watching and forecasting relied on keen observation of the natural world and an ability to remember and correlate observations with weather patterns from the past. Today, such traditional forecasting is still quite prominent all over Alaska and is a time-proven method for gauging local weather conditions and judging safety of travel. In many cases such traditional methods are augmented by access to modern technologies and to broadcasts like Alaska Weather. But in both traditional and contemporary weather realms, one basic process is the same: forecasters gather as much information as possible about present conditions, relate it to what they know about weather patterns from the past and predict what is likely to happen.

Understanding and predicting weather from either traditional or contemporary perspectives is a very complicated process, involving multiple variables, patterns and relationships, and taking years of experience and study to master. This unit attempts to set students on the road to weather competency by: (1) grounding them in the practice of locally significant weather observation; (2) exploring the physical phenomena that drive winds3 and; (3) connecting local investigations to global weather studies.

Section 1: Observing Locally


1. Traditional Forecaster

2. Weather Journal

3. Agreeing on Terms

4. Designing Local Investigations

5. Conducting and Analyzing Local Investigations

6. Community Memories

Section 2: Understanding Wind


1. Activity Series 1: Convection

2. Activity Series 2: Heat Absorption and Radiation

3. Activity Series 3: Topography

4. Activity Series 4: Heating the Earth

5. Activity Series 5: Global Winds

Section 3: Connecting Globally


1. GLOBE Overview

2. Community Memories II

Appendix A: Selawik Weather Information from Jonas Ramoth

Appendix B: Assessment

Appendix C: Weather Resource List

Appendix D: Interdisciplinary Integration



Each community in Alaska has its own weather pattern related partly to the general circulation in the atmosphere, and partly to local disturbances and variations. Long-term observers often know the nuances of local weather with great intimacy and have a sense of which factors in combination are predictive of which weather outcomes for their particular area. They depend upon this knowledge to make decisions about such things as how to dress, the safety of travel, and the best times for subsistence activities. Such knowledge bearers believe that it is critical for adolescents to learn weather observation and forecasting skills so that they too will know how to be safe when travelling independently on the land.

Consequently, in this section students work with local experts and their teacher to design and conduct a weather study built initially upon traditional weather knowledge. Such a study is aimed at developing the habit of weather watching and the skills of: observing and describing weather; noticing sequences of events; identifying locally significant patterns and relationships; and applying this knowledge to their daily lives. It is also aimed at developing appreciation and understanding of the ways in which the local culture and environment have affected the development of scientific knowledge about weather. This unit is built upon the information generously shared by Jonas Ramoth, an Iñupiat Elder from Selawik.

Activity 1: Traditional Forecaster


This unit hinges on students spending field time repeatedly with a traditional forecaster (TF) for the purposes of: exploring weather from the perspective of that Elder/expert; learning to recognize specific weather signs, changes and patterns that are important for the area; and coming to understand how the local culture and environment have affected the development of scientific weather knowledge. Such a TF might be an Elder or a younger hunter, trapper or other cultural expert with traditional knowledge to share. Observations about weather or climate change over the years, advice about safety and travel, or more subtle understandings, aesthetics, or values might also be shared by the expert.

Such field time is intended to be at least monthly for every student and the knowledge gained therein is: recorded by students in journals; discussed regularly in class; and used as a basis for developing local weather studies.

Activity 2: Weather Journals


Since weather results from the ever-changing, dynamic, interplay of multiple forces, attentive observation of weather signs throughout the day is critical to accurate forecasts. The TF will undoubtedly encourage students to develop the habit of checking weather first thing in the morning and at night. To further promote such attentive observation, students use personal weather journals throughout this unit to record their daily weather observations. Journals are also used to record thoughts and understandings about weather gleaned from the TF, class, or community studies.

Activity 3: Agreeing on Terms


In order for students to design and carry out local studies of the weather, their descriptions of weather elements need to be uniform, consistent and agreed upon by all. In rural Alaska, consensus on the meaning of words has been built through shared experience and communication over time. The words or expressions used to describe weather are specific to the area/culture and fit the range of local weather conditions perfectly. In science, understanding and agreement on terms is also critical and is often called “defining operationally.”

In this activity students observe and describe the wind, analyze their descriptions for clarity, and compare them both with Jonas’ descriptions and with the Beaufort Wind Scale. Students then decide which terms are most appropriate for their study (define operationally) and create a Selawik Wind Scale for use in future observations.

Activity 4: Designing Local Studies


In this lesson students think about and identify significant aspects of local weather patterns by reflecting on their own observations and their time with the Traditional Forecaster (TF) and deciding which information is most important to collect. They then decide how to collect and record information consistently, and design local weather studies accordingly. Depending upon their information and priorities, these studies may be replicas of the qualitative descriptions which characterize traditional forecasting, or they may include some contemporary measures such as wind speed or temperature as well. Such an approach is consistent with weather forecasting in villages today in which old-timers may both scan the morning horizon from their rooftops and listen to/incorporate forecasts from programs like Alaska Weather.4


• chart paper or blackboard

• student journals

• class log



1. Students will have already spent time with the TF, and will have recorded and discussed their own, unstructured, daily weather observations in journals.


2. Ask students to review their journals and then brainstorm as a class, a list of weather signs that are most significant for their community as gleaned both from the TF and their own observations. Record lists on chart paper and post. (Embedded Assessment: Current Knowledge).

3. Discuss the list as a class, selecting the most significant weather signs to watch for on a daily basis. For Selawik in the winter, the list might look something like this: (See Handbook pages 20–21 for more detail.)

  • evidence of wind speed and direction and changes in wind from last observation
  • relative temperature and changes in temperature
  • cloud cover and change in cloud cover
  • animal behavior and signs; human behavior
  • atmospheric phenomena like sun or moon dog


4. Tell students that they are about to work in teams to design a local weather study. They will first create and try out their team study, and then the team studies will be pooled into a cohesive class study. Provide students with a copy of the Designing Local Studies rubric (page A-16) and discuss/clarify expectations. Let them know that their work will be self-assessed and teacher-assessed using this guide and that the TF will also review their work.

Designing Local Studies

Student Scoring Guide 5





Links local cultural knowledge, experiences, and observations to creation of a weather investigation.

• I did not make clear connections between cultural knowledge and my investigation

• I did not analyze the adequacy of my present cultural knowledge

• I identified, explained or illustrated related knowledge, experiences and observations and used them as a basis for my study.

• I analyzed the adequacy of my present cultural knowledge

• I clearly explained and made explicit connections to cultural knowledge, experiences and observations and used them as a basis for my study.

• I analyzed the adequacy of my present knowledge and made a plan for gaining necessary information.


Develops a plan to guide the investigation

• The plan I wrote was confusing or didn’t address the topic identified.

• My plan inconsistently reflected the importance of clear language, careful observation and measurement.

• I made inappropriate or no decisions concerning quantitative and qualitative methods, use of estimation or units.

• I did not make or respond to suggestions for improvement in my design.

• The plan I designed made sense and could be followed by others without further explanation.

• My plan showed the importance of clear language, careful observation and measurement.

• My decisions about qualitative and quantitative methods, estimation and use of units were mostly appropriate.

• I reconsidered my design by describing problems and making improvements.

• I wrote a very comprehensive plan that directly outlined all aspects of my investigation.

• My plan showed the importance of clear language and integrated the most appropriate techniques for observation and measurement.

• I made appropriate decisions about qualitative and quantitative methods and use of units.

• I repeatedly reconsidered your investigation design by describing problems and making improvements.

5. Ask students to self-select the team they want to work with (e.g. wind, temperature, clouds/atmosphere, animal/human behavior). Let them know that each of them will continue to spend time with the Traditional Forecaster in order to gain the skills and knowledge needed to make good observations, and that the procedures they design now can be modified later as more knowledge is gained.


6. Ask teams to discuss weather observations, knowledge and experiences that might be pertinent to their study. Encourage review of past journal entries and the class log. Students should record this information individually in the “connecting” section of their journal. They should also decide if both individually and collectively (as a team) they have enough knowledge/information to design a weather study. If not, they should make a plan for filling in needed skills/knowledge or revising plan.


7. As teams work, rotate around to each group facilitating discussion, helping students to sort out their current understandings and to organize their thinking. Emphasize the importance of individual expression of ideas, and point out that listening to the ideas of others might help better explain their own ideas. If the TF is available for this discussion time, he or she could be most helpful in this role as well. (Embedded assessment: prior knowledge and group skills.)


8. Next, ask student teams to put their heads together to design a plan to collect relevant weather information. (In science such a plan is called a protocol and involves designation of very specific procedures.) This design process should be recorded in their journal under “designing”.

• Encourage students to perform a trial run of the procedure so that steps can be organized in a workable manner.

• Emphasize the use of detail to communicate clear directions.

• Ask students to include precise definitions of terms (e.g. the term “calm” means that smoke rises vertically); and steps or rules that will be followed throughout the procedure (e.g. wind direction is to be gauged daily at noon).

• Prompt student analysis with questions such as:

- Will your design yield enough information for analysis?

- Does your design include information needed for connections to other weather signs? (E.g. Both wind speed and direction are critical measures. Collecting only one or the other would be inadequate for prediction of upcoming weather change.)

- How accurate and workable are your measurements/estimates and use of tools?


9. Ask the team reporter to share the team’s procedure/protocol with the class as a whole. Prompt student audience critique using by asking questions such as the following (posted on a chart for clear reference):

• Are the terms clearly defined?

• Are the steps/procedures of the task clear?

• Does it tell specifically what data is to be collected? When? Where? By whom? Etc?

• Does the plan reflect what has been learned from the TF?

• Does the plan include attention to information needed by other studies in order to make clear connections?


10. After all teams have shared and been critiqued, have them work in their teams to revise.

11. Have teams conduct observations as designed for 1 week.

12. After 1 week of observation, have teams meet to assess how well their observations/recordings are going. Provide structured discussion questions as above. Teams revise for clarity.


13. After the revision work, use a cooperative learning structure such as jig-sawing during which students become fully acquainted with the details of each of the other weather watching protocols.

14. Have a class discussion in which you help negotiate an overall weather observation schedule and data recording procedure for the all observations considering such issues as:

• Can/should observation times for all protocols be the same?

• Are there any duplications in data collected?

• Can individual data sheets be consolidated into one for purposes of entry into the log? (see sample)

• How should incidental information be handled? (Incidental information is any other data that could contribute to understanding such as faulty equipment, extreme weather conditions not anticipated, described or quantified in protocol, etc.)


15. Conduct weather observations


• Embedded Assessment as indicated in lesson text

• Traditional Forecaster reviews designs and provides feedback.

• Teacher and student completion of Scoring Guides and conference

Activity 5: Conducting and Analyzing Local Studies


Students carry out the collective weather study: recording , organizing and discussing data daily. Once sufficient data have been collected, students look for patterns and relationships in data, link these with what they knew and with traditional knowledge, and ask questions related to the investigations. By so doing, student knowledge of local weather patterns as well as their analysis, inference and prediction skills are improved over time.

Activity 6: Community Memories I


This lesson is a combination of a community weather night and mini science fair, hosted by the students for the purposes of: sharing what they have learned to date about local weather; and learning more from the community as a whole by listening to weather stories. In this way, it’s both a celebration of what students have learned so far and an invitation for the community to join in the fun. It should take place once the students feel well-grounded with their local studies and have sufficient information to share. Diverse representations of understanding are encouraged.

Selawik Winter Winds


It is assumed that as students spend time observing the weather, they will come up with questions about the weather which interest them greatly (see Handbook page 20–21.) 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 of what causes the wind. 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 wind/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 help enable either approach, the following series of lessons (in a guided discovery format) is provided on the core 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.

Activity 1: Convection

“If you open the door of a warm house on a cold day, there’s the wind.”
—Jonas Ramoth


Convection currents stirring the atmosphere produce winds. Convection is a cyclic process in which heat energy is transferred in fluids (liquids or gases). If a fluid is heated (a), it expands, becomes less dense and rises (b). When this warm liquid reaches the surface, it spreads out and begins to cool (c). As the fluid gets farther from the heat source, it cools down, and the cooler fluid sinks (d). Thus a convection current or cell is completed when the cooler, sinking fluid flows inward (e) towards the heat source to replace the upward-moving, hotter fluid (a). This cycle is what drives both local and global winds as well as volcanic eruptions, the swirling patterns in miso soup, ocean currents, home heat circulation patterns and mountain building.6

Convection currents

Activity 1a


Pencils, tape, tissue paper, scissors, string, hole punch



1. Read the opening quote from Jonas Ramoth: If you open the door of a warm house on a cold day, there’s the wind. Ask them what they think Jonas means by this. Ask them to imagine this situation and to diagram and describe in their journals the movement of air when the door is opened. Students will have had lots of experience with this phenomena and will probably say things like “hot air rises” and “cold rushes in”, but use questions like the following to probe their understanding of air movement particularly with regard to the convection cycle.

• Can you feel air movement or just a temperature change?

• Does air move into or out of the house or both?

• If cold air is moving into the house, what is happening to the warm air ?

• If the air is moving, are hot and cold air moving in the same way at the same place?

Discuss these ideas as a class, recording predictions and explanations. (EA: prior knowledge of convection)

2. Provide students with a copy of the Learning Cycle Model Scoring Guide7 and let them know that their learning will be assessed using this checklist. Students will use the form as a self-evaluation and you will use it as a checklist as students work through the explorations and as you review their journal entries.

Explore/ Generalize

3. Have students construct wind detectors by using string to attach a 1 x 3 inch strip of tissue paper to a pencil as shown. (You’ll want to test design ahead of time to make sure it is weighted sufficiently to swing with wind.)

Have students construct wind detectors

4. Ask them to go to an outside door on a cold winter day8, open the door just a few inches (from inside) and hold the detector near the floor. Observe and record which way the tissue/wind moves.

5. Now hold the detector in the middle of the door and then near the top. Observe and record movement of wind detector.

6. Ask which way the air is moving at each of these locations. Does the air movement seem to be as strong at each level? What are your ideas about this? How do these observations compare with your original ideas?

7. How do you think air would move if you opened the door of a hot oven in a warm room? Test and find out.

8. Discuss how these observations compare with their original ideas. Have them revise journal diagrams if they want.

Learning Cycle Model Scoring Guide


• Initiates activities with no forethought or avoids activity completely

• ignores needs and contributions of peers

• interacts with phenomena as instructed

• works politely with peers, but sticks to personal agenda

• asks clarifying questions

• uses a variety of methods to interact with the subject

• works cooperatively with peers and gains insights from their activities

• no organized attention or skills applied to task at hand • measurements, observations, and classifications are recorded, but with little attention to detail

• makes careful observations, measurements, and classifications

• records measurements, observations, and inferences

• shows minimal intellectual interaction with materials being manipulated • fluid interactions with phenomena, but they sometimes are off target with intended activities • identifies and seeks to expand personal understanding of the concept or phenomena




• shows little participation in discussions

• demonstrates non-supportive behavior for others' input

• engaged in discussion as a participant

• does not initiate many questions


• asks thoughtful questions

• shows respect for other ideas

• does not distinguish between observations and inferences

• looks upon guesses as fact

• has basic understanding of the differences between observation and inference.

• understands that a hypothesis is a kind of scientific guess

• distinguishes between observations and inferences

• identifies relevant observations and interpretations

• looks upon guesses as hypotheses to be tested

• jumps to conclusions that are not based upon recent manipulations of the phenomena • considers data before making conclusions

• avoids jumping to conclusions

• identifies alternative explanations for phenomena

• does not recognize applicability of knowledge gained from both successes and failures of experimental process • creative application ideas, but they do not address personal or societal needs • offers to apply new knowledge to positive benefit of society
• does not refer to principles and concepts discovered in earlier generalizations • applications loosely associated with principles of concept • refers to principles which were discovered in the generalize stage in spite of new context
• does not offer applications of new knowledge regardless of context

• applications offered, but does not transcend original context


• transfers application of concept to new context

Activity 1b


Per group: large, wide-mouthed jar, water, baby food jar, aluminum foil, food coloring, rubber bands, string, sharp pencil

Explore/ Generalize

9. Have students fill a large (gallon), wide-mouthed jar two-thirds full with cold water. Next, put three drops of food coloring in a baby-food jar. Fill the baby-food jar to the top with hot water. Cover it with aluminum foil and secure the foil tightly with rubber bands. Tie a string around the baby-food jar and lower it into the bottom of the large jar. Predict what you think will happen when you punch a hole in the foil and record prediction in journal.

10. Wait until the water is still and then punch one hole in the foil with a long pencil. Watch and record what happens. (Nothing happens because the cold water is heavier than the warm water and pressing down upon the hot water, but there is no “escape hole” allowing the warm water to be pushed out by cold.)

Watch and record what happens.

11. Ask students why nothing happens with just one hole. Ask for solutions and then have them punch a second hole, observe and record.

12. Ask what they observed when the second hole was punched? Did the colored fluid rise from only one, or both of the holes? What are your ideas about this? How long will it keep rising? After a long time, what will the fluid in the large jar be like? What are your ideas about why this is so? (The colored hot water will rise from one hole in a fairly straight line. As it rises, it will cool and begin to both sink and diffuse into the cold water as water temperatures equilibrate. Depending upon water temperatures, a complete convection cell may or may not be visible with the red/hot water.)

13. Ask students to compare this activity to the door activities. What do they now think the air movement in a warm room on a cold day might look like?


Activity 1c 9

Getting Ready

The last two activities demonstrated what happens when fluids of unequal temperature meet. This activity demonstrates how warm and cold surfaces affect air. To do this, an observation box and smoke-filled air piston must be created as follows:


Observation Box: 1 per Student Team

1 cardboard box (about 30 cm x 30 cm x 50cm) per team

clear plastic food wrap

plastic tape


Smoke Piston

1 large air piston

1 plastic straw

heavy cotton string, 12 cm long



baby food jar of tap water


1. Remove one side of the box; then cut a window in two sides as shown. but leave about 1/3 of the top intact. Tape plastic food wrap over the windows so that they are airtight. In one end of the box, cut a small hole just large enough to insert a plastic straw.

Observation Box

2. Cut the straw into 4–5cm lengths. Cut the string into lengths of about 4cm. Double one of the pieces of string twice or more until it will fit snugly in the end of a piece of the plastic straw. Leave about 1/2 cm of the doubled string sticking out of the straw. Repeat the procedure for the other pieces.

Constructing a Observation Box

3. Slip a section of the prepared straw onto the air piston. Light the string, being careful not to melt the straw. Collect smoke in the cylinder by slowly drawing out the plunger. Remove the straw and lay it aside where it won’t burn anything. You may need more smoke later. Insert figure six with step 3 narrative.

Collect smoke in the cylinder by slowly drawing out the plunger.


4. Working in student teams, place a pan of cold water, ice water, ice cubes or snow inside the observation box. Be sure the straw is in place through the end of the box. The end of the straw should not be over the pan of water.

5. Insert a smoke-filled air piston into the straw of the observation box. Gently force smoke through the straw into the box so that it moves very slowly over the cold water. Observe and record what happens to the smoke.

Insert a smoke-filled air piston into the straw of the observation box.

6. Repeat using a pan of hot water. Observe and record what happens.


7. Ask student to report what they observed with the smoke and cold water. (See diagrams below.) Ask them to use arrows to diagram the movement of air in the box. What are their ideas about this? How about for hot water?

Ask student to report what they observed

8. Ask how these observations and ideas compare with their earlier ideas about the open door.


9. Ask students what their ideas now are about air movement when a door is opened on a cold day? Ask them to review their original journal predictions and revise the diagram/explanation using evidence from explorations as support for their ideas.

10. Take students outside on a calm day when smoke is visible from smoke stacks. Ask them to diagram and explain smoke movement and air temperatures at different levels using evidence from these explorations in support of their ideas. (See sample diagram)

Ask them to diagram and explain smoke movement and air temperatures at different levels

11. Ask students to imagine a hot summer day in Selawik where the air temperature is much warmer than the water temperature of Selawik Lake. Ask them to diagram air movement and explain it using evidence from these explorations.

12. Ask what might wind patterns be like in the late fall just before freeze-up of Selawik Lake when the water temperatures are warmer than air temperatures, particularly at night? Do your predictions match your experience? Check with the TF to see if your predictions match his or her experience.


Embedded assessment using LCM Scoring Guide

Student self-assessment using LCM Scoring Guide

Review and response to student journal entries

Activity 2: Heat Radiation and Absorption10

“When you see what looks like fog rising from the lakes and ponds,
their heat temperature is balancing with the air’s.”


Some parts of the earth’s surface absorb, store and re-radiate (or emit) heat more readily than others and this uneven heating of the air near the earth’s surface sets convection currents and winds in motion. In this activity students measure and analyze the ability of different materials to absorb and emit heat, and then connect this understanding to their ideas about convection and the creation of local and global winds.

Activity 3: Topography

“The west wind is a poor artist but the east wind does beautiful work.”
—Jonas Ramoth


Selawik is located in a valley , at the base of the Kobuk River to the east and facing Selawik Lake and Kotzebue Sound to the west. The Kobuk valley acts as a funnel for prevailing east winds which create long, straight, consistent drifts of snow about 10–12 inches wide in flat country. West winds, however, do not prevail and are not funneled by mountains, but rather, cover largely open tundra interrupted by minor hillocks or trees. This situation results in erratic wind patterns and characteristic rough, uneven snowdrifts. In this series of activities, students measure and graph snowdrifts around a building and explore the creation of eddies in water as a way of understanding the effect of topography on local wind patterns.

Activity 4: Heating the Earth


In this series of activities, students explore how the angle of sunlight affects the Earth’s temperature and seasons and then apply this understanding to their local situation.

Activity Series 5, Global Winds


In this activity, students extend their understanding of convection to consider global winds and the effect of the earth’s rotation on the creation of patterns of prevailing wind direction.

  Once students have become grounded in observing and understanding local weather patterns in terms of cultural and scientific knowledge, and once they begin to realize through these studies that what happens locally is connected to what happens globally, the stage is well set for expanding learning activities to focus on those global connections and their implications for life and behavior at home. Such connections are especially important in Alaska and other high latitude areas where global warming is expected to be of a greater magnitude.

GLOBE Investigations

The GLOBE Program (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) is a hands-on science and education program that unites students, teachers and scientists from around the world in study and research about the dynamics of the Earth’s environment particularly as related to global climate change. In this program, students take careful measurements of the environment at their school and share the data with scientists and with GLOBE students in other countries through the Internet.12 Because one of the goals of GLOBE is to provide educational activities for students and uniform data for scientists, the GLOBE Learning Activities and Protocols clearly lay out the precise student measurement procedures and data quality techniques. Calibration of equipment, control of variables, and standardization of measurement are critical aspects of the activities. As such, they provide many opportunities for students to observe, measure, collect, record and analyze data and thus address key science standards. They also present a clear example of how Western science is done and, by comparison, illuminate the similarities and differences between Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Western science. It is for these reasons that extending local weather observations to include the Atmosphere and Seasons Investigations of GLOBE is suggested.

A listing of relevant GLOBE protocols and learning activities for these two investigations follows. All of these can be fully accessed at the GLOBE website:

Atmosphere Investigation


• Cloud Type

• Cloud Cover

• Rainfall

• Solid Precipitation

• Precipitation pH

• Maximum, Minimum and Current Temperatures

Learning Activities

• Observing, Describing & Identifying Clouds

• Estimating Cloud Cover: A Simulation

• Studying the Instrument Shelter

• Building a Thermometer

• Land, Water and Air

• Cloud Watch


Seasons Investigation

Integrates protocols from other investigations

Learning Activities

• What Can We Learn About Our Seasons?

• What are Some Factors That Affect Seasonal Patterns?

• How Do Regional Temperature Patterns Vary Among Different Regions of the World?

• What Can We Learn by Sharing Local Seasonal Markers with Other Schools Around the World?

Community Memories II


This lesson is a sequel to Community Memories I evening, differing from it only by the addition of the GLOBE studies as well as any new work on local studies. Again, the purposes would be to display and discuss student work, get input from community members and gather new information from the stories and experiences shared by others. It should take place once the students feel well-grounded with their GLOBE studies and have sufficient information to share.


Gould, A. (1988) Convection—A Current Event . Berkeley: Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley

Hewitt, P. (1997) Conceptual Physics—Teacher’s Edition. California: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company

Intermediate Science Curriculum Study (1972) Winds and Weather—Probing the Natural World/3. Florida: Florida State University

Martz, C. (1999) KuC 1999 graduation address in Sharing Our Pathways. 4(4) 4–5

Murphy, N. (1992) Learning cycle model and science analytical trait assessment tool in The Great Northern Science Book . Alaska Science Consortium. Spring 1992


1. Unit available in full at

2. Science Content Standard A-8 related to heat transfer could also be used

3. This unit deals exclusively with winds and not with other critical aspects of weather (such as the water cycle) because winds are the most significant weather sign discussed by Jonas Ramoth for Selawik.

4. It is important to note that Jonas Ramoth sometimes incorporates wind speed or temperature measurements in his otherwise qualitative descriptions and that students should be encouraged to develop/use qualitative descriptions with a similarly minimal use of measurement for now.

5. Adapted from Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (1999), Science Inquiry Scoring Guide

6. Gould, A., (1988) p. 30

7. Note: originally called “Learning Cycle Model: Analytical Trait Assessment” in Murphy, N. 1992 pp 27–28

8. Opening a freezer door also works

9. Adapted from Intermediate Science Curriculum Study (1972) p. 2–4

10. Adapted from Intermediate Science Curriculum Study (1972) p.7–10

11. Martz, C. (1999) p. 5

12. It should be noted, however, that since readers of this unit are not trained GLOBE teachers, access to the data entry and retrieval portion of the GLOBE Internet site is not possible. It is possible, however, to use and adapt the GLOBE lessons for local purposes and thus involve students in a learning experience that will broaden and deepen their understanding of global weather phenomena.

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