Elementary meteorology and atmosphere lesson plans.

See more about the atmosphere.

Good weather and atmosphere lesson plans begin with basic teaching elements of meteorology. What kinds of things do we have in mind? Elements such as temperature, wind, rain and atmospheric pressure.

What is so important about air pressure?

Atmosphere Lesson Plans

For example, begin these atmosphere lesson plans with air pressure experiments...maybe start with a map entitled "barometric pressure today". This simple drawing includes a low pressure system with a trough and two fronts.

A warm front in red and a cold front in blue. The arrowheads show typical wind directions (if you're in the Northern Hemisphere) in a situation like this.

You can even introduce a technical term: Isobaric analysis. This method help weather forecasters identify major features such as surface highs, lows, ridges and troughs. To do so we obtain a map with observed pressure readings for various cities and draw curves joining all the locations on the map that have equal, or nearly equal pressures. You will end up with a pattern of contours resembling the example above. What are they all about? Lows are places where cloud patterns and fronts can be found on a consistent basis.

How does this work? Once again, we draw isobars, (curves) connecting points with equal pressure and do so for several levels until they get a pattern like the one in the drawing above.

Atmosphere Lesson Plans for classroom instruction

Want to really have fun with your students and do a great job? Design the class lesson to show them how to do this. The pattern could look like the thin dark curves above with a central low or high value.

Meteorologists rely on pressure maps just like this one and use them throughout their work.

Between two adjacent lows you will find an area of higher pressure. Who cares? These are the key differences between highs and lows? We often see clear skies and light winds with highs and ridges, stretched-out highs, while lows and troughs are commonly associated with clouds and precipitation – in other words, typical low air pressure weather.

It's more complicated than that and the people who do this study a great deal of physics to understand the processes. Air rises higher from the ground in areas of lower pressure and then cools, causing clouds to form. The opposite happens in higher-pressure areas. Air moves downward, suppressing cloud formation.

Have a look at this longer list of ideas for teaching.

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