In this lesson plan, teachers will guide students as they investigate how weather patterns affect natural cycles.
In this lesson, students read about the unusually warm winter most of the country has experienced and how it affects natural cycles like plant bloom times and pollination.
They will explore how weather patterns affect natural cycles by looking at the factors that contribute to global climate patterns, analyze winter weather data from the past two years and generate annotated maps of climate attributes like the jet stream and ocean currents.
Lesson Plan for how weather patterns affect natural cycles:
Materials | Computers with Internet access, projector, blank maps of the United States (PDF).
Warm-Up | When students arrive, show them the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s map U.S. Climate at a Glance. Ask: What do you notice? What information does this map provide? Does this map fit with your own experience of the weather this winter?
Next, show students what this climate map looked like over the past five years. (To do this, scroll to the bottom of the page, pull down a previous year and hit “submit.”)
Ask: how do the climate maps from the past five years compare with the current one? For example, how do the years compare in terms of average January temperatures? What conclusions would you draw about this winter’s weather, compared to past winters?
Then compare that set of map images with photographs depicting the winter of 2012 in much of Europe. Ask: What differences do you notice? What might account for this?
You might pull down a world map, and show students your latitude relative to the latitudes for some of the European cities shown in the photo gallery.
Ask: Does it surprise you to see such different weather in places that are at the same latitude? What might account for the differences? And why might other places, like Alaska, have received record snowfall?
Finally, explain that you will read about the unusually warm winter much of the continental United States has experienced in 2012, and how this weather affects natural cycles.