Weathering Climate Confusion
This activity helps students better understand the common misconceptions between the terms 'weather' and 'climate'. Students participate in small group discussion, a hands on activity to assess learning, and a community survey to better understand and clarify misunderstandings in the public.
Time Required: up to 60 minutes.
Students form groups of four. Without any explanation from the teacher, they are asked to discuss the difference between ‘weather’ and ‘climate’, ending their discussion by writing one-sentence definitions of each term on their sheet of paper (and noting down the nature of disagreements if
members of the group cannot agree). Each group reports back, the teacher facilitating a whole class discussion of differences of opinion and of issues raised. At an appropriate moment, the handout is distributed and discussed, the teacher explaining that while the difference between weather and climate is not so difficult to understand, there seems to be frequent and widespread confusion among the general public often making for muddied and misleading debate on climate change.
Groups consider each of the Weather or Climate? cards. They arrange them on the sheet of newsprint, pasting them down. They write ‘weather’ (using a marker of one color) against a statement that they think is describing weather, and ‘climate’ (using a marker of a second color) against a statement they think is describing climate. They use a marker of a third color to explain any misconceptions, misunderstandings or ambiguities they discern in the statements. Completed charts are hung on the classroom wall and groups visit each others chart, noting down queries or objections they want to raise in the ensuing classroom discussion.
Blank paper, chart paper, markers, glue-stick, masking tape, a copy of the climate and weather handout, and one set of cut-up weather or climate cards for each group of four students.
Resource Type:Lesson Plan
Subject(s):English / Language Arts, English as a Second Language, Environmental Studies, Earth Science, Environmental Science,
Topic:Air, Atmosphere and Climate, Science and Technology,
Level:Primary / ElementaryIntermediate / Middle
Grade: 3 4 5 6 7 8
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