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Fun and Useful Weather Concepts for Budding Meteorologists

by Jennifer Dawson, Freelance Contributor

Most of the learning experiences that children have today are led by the use of technology (such as tablets or computers). Rather than going out into the world to study a subject, children and teens sit behind a device to read and watch media about a given topic. Studies have shown that this overuse of technology can actually change the way children think in a negative way. Decreased memory and a decreased use of imagination are just two of the side effects of excessive exposure to technology. 

When it comes to learning about nature, the best teacher is nature itself. This is especially true when trying to teach children about weather. The sky, wind, and other current conditions give clues about future weather conditions that children can easily learn. Explore three concepts to teach youth about understanding the weather using nature.


Reading the clouds

Cloud types accurately reveal major clues as to what short-term weather conditions will be like. Teaching children about what each cloud type may be telling is an excellent tool to help predict the weather. Mammatus clouds, for example, often signal the arrival of severe thunderstorms. On the opposite end, low-level cumulus clouds are a good indicator of fair weather conditions. Rather than having children learn these lessons on a computer, have them identify cloud types while outside using images.


Help children understand basic weather measurements

Using basic technology can help youth learn how to take and interpret weather measurements. While outside, bring along instruments such as a portable digital hygrometer – used for taking humidity levels, an anemometer – a device for measuring wind speed, and a thermometer – used for taking the temperature. Explain how each of these devices work, and show children how to understand readings. Discuss what is considered to be a normal temperature for the local climate during the current season. Talk about how high and low humidity can impact future conditions. Encourage students to create their own weather forecast based on what they are observing.


Dad holding his child in stubble field in rural Alberta Canada watching storm clouds roll in.

Explain the importance of weather safety

One of the most important aspects of weather education is a discussion of safety. Take this opportunity as one to explain how various conditions (e.g. flooding, tornadoes, lighting) can quickly become dangerous. While many children already know what precautions to take while indoors, discuss how to take shelter if inclement weather strikes while camping or hiking.

Although there are many advantages provided by technology, nature itself is often the best teacher when it comes to the weather. Teaching children about how to predict weather conditions using cues from nature (and simple weather instruments) allows them to think critically, overcome distraction, and enhance their memory.

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