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Weather or Not It Might Make Us Sick

Students monitor weather {definitionbot=disable}forecasts for four weeks. They assess the accuracy of predictions and determine whether local weather reflects the impact of global warming.

Materials Needed
Extension Activities
Relevant Curriculum Standards


In this activity, students track and evaluate the accuracies of weather forecasting.

Estimated class time:
One class period to introduce the topic, then 5-10 minutes each day for data recording (if done in class) for 4 weeks, followed by one class period to sum up the activity.


Students will:

  • Define global warming
  • Relate warmer temperatures to possible increases in allergen and pathogen growth
  • Record and assess weather forecast data



  • Introduce the topic by directing students to the website "Taking Our Temperature" on this website. Be sure to have students read the sections on:
  • Discuss the content on the site, making sure that students paid attention to the concepts of global warming and its possible affects on health of humans. Explain that most scientists are predicting an increase in global temperature.
  • Tell the students that their task will be to evaluate whether our current forecasters are doing a good job of predicting the weather. They will need to collect data for a 4-week period. Provide them with four of the weather data table sheets, instructing them to find predictions for a city of their choice (or divide the class into groups and assign particular areas of the United States to study) at The Weather Channel or at NWS Internet Weather Service. It's also possible to find weather forecasts on websites of local tv stations. Record the high temperature predicted, the condition predicted as cloudy, sunny, partly cloudy, etc. and the expected chance for precipitation.
  • To check the predictions, students can watch the weather report of local news broadcast or return to the NWS site to check conditions for the past 24 hours. For each correct temperature prediction, within 5 degrees, score one point. Score one point for correct condition predictions, as well. If precipitation forecast was for 50% chance or less and there is none, score 1 point. If precipitation forecast was 51% or more and it does rain or snow, score 1 point. No score should be recorded if the predictions are not met. Tally the scores at the end of the week. A score of 21 is a perfect score for a week.
  • During the spring and fall months, students can also record the mold count for any given week. This feature is included on The Weather Channel's website under "Health: Pollen Reports," and the information can be recorded at the bottom of the Weather Data Sheets.
  • At the end of the 4-week time period, students should examine their data and write a summary of their findings:
  • Were the predictions very accurate?
  • Was one of the variables, temperature, condition or precipitation, more often accurately predicted than another?
  • Were mold counts higher or lower with warmer temperatures?
  • Do these local short-term predictions indicate that forecasts of global warming might be accurate?
  • If different parts of the country were examined, then each should present what they learned to the class.


  • Participation in discussion and lab groups
  • Written summary or lab report


  • Create a pamphlet on the dangers of tanning or on sun-safety
  • Research different types of skin cancers and treatments, and write a report or make a presentation

This lesson correlates to the following National Science Education Standards, located online at bob.nap.edu/html/nses/html/6e.html#csc912, and National Health Education Standards located online at www.aahperd.org/aahe/pdf_files/standards.pdf.

National Science Education Standards

Content Standard D:
As a result of their activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop an understanding of the structure of the earth system:

  • Global patterns of atmospheric movement influence local weather

National Health Standards

Health Education Standard 1:
Students will comprehend concepts related to health promotion and disease prevention by:

  • analyzing how environment and personal health are interrelated.
  • analyzing how the environment influences the health of the community


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