Lesson Plan

Exploring Climate Science (Weather and Climate)

Weather Rolling in at the Monument
Grade Level:
Fifth Grade-Twelfth Grade
Climate, Climate Change, Earth Science, Science and Technology
40 Minutes
Group Size:
Up to 36
National/State Standards:
5-ESS2-1. 5-ESS3-1.


In “Exploring Climate Science (Weather and Climate),” students will use tools to collect weather data and discuss the differences between weather and climate. Our extensive “Exploring Climate Science” curricula unit is broken into eight lessons, each taking 40 minutes to complete. Designed around the 5th grade Next Generation Science Standards, it is a unit easily adapted up for middle or high school use. Teach the entire unit or pull out particular activities. This is lesson 2 of the unit.


Students will be able to:
1.  Compare and contrast weather and climate, providing at least three differences between the two.
2.  Use an anemometer and thermometer to collect local weather data


Water is essential for life on Earth. Relative water availability is a major factor in designating habitats for different living organisms. In the United States, things like agriculture and water rights are hot topics. Current models predict that average global temperatures are going to continue to rise even if regional climate changes remain complex and varied. These changes will have an impact on all of Earth's systems. 

Studies have shown that climate change is driven not only by natural effects but also by human activities. Knowledge of the factors that affect climate, coupled with responsible management of natural resources, are required for sustaining these Earth systems. Long-term change can be anticipated using science-based predictive models, making science and engineering essential to understanding global climate change and its possible impacts.

 National Parks can serve as benchmarks for climate science trends and effects over time because they are protected areas void of human influence. Understanding current climate trends will help set students up to be successful in interpreting and engaging in discussions about climate change, which will lead to informed decision making.


Day 1- Climate Change 
Day 2- Weather vs Climate
Day 3- Snowpack
Day 4- Snow Course Field Trip
Day 5- Watersheds
Day 6- Streamflow Data  
Day 7- NPS Connections  
Day 8- Research Projects 



Most of the materials for this unit are provided in the Snow Study Trunk and as downloadable files.

Video Earth: Climate and Weather

Anemometers and thermometers (Provided in Snow Study Trunk)



Step 1
Display video Earth: Climate and Weather. Have students fill out worksheet 2.1 while watching the video.

Step 2
Take students outside to an open area and demonstrate how to use the anemometers and thermometers. Split students into small groups to take a reading recording their data on worksheet 2.2.

Step 3
1. Bring the group back together for a discussion about local weather. Stress how the weather today could look very different from the weather tomorrow.
2. Discuss how the data they collected today was for the local weather. Climate would be the readings taken over a much longer period of time (decades etc). Facilitate brainstorm on how climate change can influence climate.
3. Explain how climate is connected to ecosystems—a hot climate is a dessert while a cold snowy climate would be the arctic. Animals and plants have specific climates that they live in. Facilitate worksheet 2.3 having students describe the climate in different pictures and match the animals to the ecosystem.


Exit ticket question: Write at least three sentences about the day's weather versus the local climate.



Continue to have students collect local weather data each day. Use this data in a variety of ways: use data to practice graphing skills, compare weather data to past weather data to evaluate climate changes, compare weather data to past weather data to come to a consensus about the local climate, etc.


Weather, climate, adaptation, habitat (these words to be taught in context during the lesson)