Weather-Based Curriculum

Students gather their daily weather data from the Internet

Course Syllabus - Introduction to Meteorology
The focus of our first semester will be Meteorology, which, of course, is the study of the weather. The emphasis will be on an elementary understanding of the underlying physics and chemistry of weather, as well as developing a basic familiarity with the weather systems that affect the continental US. Your final objective for the class is to produce a reasonably accurate 4-day forecast using Power Point or HTML, for a specific city. There will be many hands-on activities, demonstrations, computer simulations, and selected readings that will help you discover the fundamental principles of meteorology.  Besides a full schedule of in-class activities, you will also be expected to co mplete a weather pamphlet using Microsoft Word, describing one of the wide variety of interesting weather phenomena, such as rainbows or tornadoes; and a 2 to 4-page research paper, investigating one aspect of the relationship between the weather and humanity's food supply.

Daily Weather Data Gathered from the World Wide Web using:
Unisys Weather and AMS DataStreme

Week 1
     Introductory activities and pre-test
     Station Plots and weather tracking
     Seasons of the Year
     Solar Motion
     Phases of the Moon

Week 2
     Earth's Heat Balance
     Heating and Cooling of Landforms - seasonal and diurnal effects
     Heat transfer activities
     Surface contour map - isotherms
     Vertical structure of the atmosphere

Week 3
     Ideal Gas Law laboratory activities
     Ideal Gas Law computer simulation -define temperature and pressure
     Composition of the atmosphere - Greenhouse Effect, Global Warming, Ozone layer
     Pressure Gradient Force - Wind
     Surface contour map - isobars

Week 4
     Wind computer simulation
     Coriolis Force activity - Highs and Lows (Cyclones and Anti-Cyclones)
     Global wind circulation systems
     The Jet Stream - Upper air maps
     Humidity - Heat Index and Wind Chill Factor

Week 5
     Water phase changes and latent heat
     Condensation - Dew, Fog, and Clouds
     Dew Point laboratory activity
     Cloud formation laboratory activities
     Cloud formation computer simulation
     Visual identification and forecasting significance of the 10 major cloud types
     Blue Sky/White Clouds laboratory activity

Week 6
     Interpreting satellite imagery from the Internet
         - Visible, Infra Red, & Water Vapor
     Precipitation: Rain, Hail, Sleet, and Snow
     Doppler radar image analysis
     The Water Cycle and urban watersheds
         Thornton Creek as a living laboratory: Flow rate, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and pH
         Identification of insect "indicator species" as a measure of water quality
     Air Masses: Marine and Continental, Polar and Tropical

Week 7
     When air masses collide: Fronts
     Front laboratory activities
     Cold, warm, occluded, and stationary fronts from WWW
     Weather and geography: mountains, valleys, plains, deserts, and oceans
     Weather systems across the US from the WWW
     The complete surface map from the WWW

Students working in the ECL: Electronic Classroom / Lab

Week 8
     Thunderstorms, Tornadoes, and Hurricanes
     Killer weather: Deep Freeze, Blazing Inferno, Blizzards, Droughts, Floods, and
     Small scale weather phenomena: Sundogs, Rainbows, Halos, etc.
     Large scale weather phenomena: El Nino, Southern Oscillation, La Nina
     Weather data graphical analysis (identify fronts by date, type, and duration)
     Check weather data analysis against archived weather data (Unisys).

As a final project students create a forecast for the city they have been studying.
This requires students, in groups of 4-5, to use computers simultaneously to compare
satellite images, and fronts data, for comparison with the graphs they have made on

Week 9/10
     Weather Forecasting: Step 1- Assembling the data
     Weather Forecasting: Step 2 - Analyzing the data
     Weather Forecasting: Step 3 - Making the forecast
     Preparing your forecast web page or Power Point presentation
     Presentation of forecasts