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Rain, Rain, Go Away?


Unit Summary

Man has been trying to modify the weather for centuries. Can the current technological advances allow us to do this? Should we?

Students will attempt to answer these questions by first understanding the elements that affect the weather. Using weather instruments, students will learn to collect weather data. Through collaborative work, class discussions, and Internet research, the students will gain skills that will allow them to analyze patterns in the data. The new insight that the students gain will be applied to the study of weather disturbances.

As a culminating activity, students will break up into groups to do research on current trends and issues on weather modification. Each group must decide if they are for or against weather modification. For groups who are in favor of weather modification, they will pretend to be a company that offers weather modification services, while groups not favoring weather modification will act as environmental advocates and will promote the negative effects of modifying the weather. They will publish these supporting information on a web site which they will develop for their group. Each group will be given 15 minutes to report to class and present their web site.

Curriculum-Framing Questions 

  • Essential Question
    Just because we can, should we? 
  • Unit Questions
    Is weather modification good or bad?
    How do advances in technology allow us to control the weather? 
  • Content Questions
    How accurately can we predict the weather? 
    What are the possible means of weather modification?
    What are the factors that affect the weather?

Instructional Procedures
Check implementation plan(doc) for things to do prior to and during unit implementation.

Day 1 (Activities on Basic Weather Elements)

  • This day is devoted to lessons and activities on the basic weather elements and how these are measured. Students will use actual weather instruments such as barometer, hygrometer, and anemometer in doing the activities. The operating principles of these instruments will be explained using animations and simulations. Students will also visit web sites provided by the teacher, for more detailed information on the operating principles of these instruments. To assess, if students understood how these instruments work, they will submit a report describing the operating principle of a particular weather instrument assigned to their group. This will be submitted the following meeting.

    Required output (which will be one of the bases for assessing student learning):
    • Report describing the operating principle of a weather instrument.

Days 2 to 4 (The Interrelationships of the Basic Weather Elements)

  • Each group submits their report on the operating principle of a weather instrument assigned to them.
  • Working in groups, the students will do an activity (doc) where they will explore how the different weather elements affect each other (e.g. pressure and RH are affected by temperature changes, properties of a rising parcel of air change as it rises). The students will be working with a combination of simulations and Microsoft Excel* spreadsheet templates.

    Provisions for different learning styles and skill levels.
    • For the visual learners, the activities will be in the form of simulations.
    • Advanced students will be provided with Microsoft Excel* templates to allow them to experiment with different variables where simple formulae are provided for some weather elements that students can transform.

    Required output (at least one of the following, which will be one of the bases of assessing student learning):
    • Group presentation (ppt) that illustrates the effects of weather elements on each other.
    • Microsoft Excel* spreadsheet illustrating numerical relationships between different weather elements or a graph of two different weather elements.

Days 5 to 6 (Weather Disturbances)

  • Detailed discussions on weather disturbances (such as thunderstorms, hailstones (ppt), tornadoes and typhoons) and how the weather elements change during these phenomena. The teacher will also distribute copies of a teacher-made newsletter that will inform students about hailstones and how they are made.

Days 7 to 8 (Research on Weather Modification)

  • Research on weather modification using a combination of library and Internet research. Groups can do research at home or in school. At the conclusion of the research period, the students have to decide whether they are for or against weather modification.

Days 9 to 10 (Report Preparation and Sharing)

  • One day will be allotted for the preparation of the report. Each group develops a web site to promote the information that supports the stand of their group. The teacher will be available for consultation.

    The students will be encouraged to be creative in their report. The groups may use props and additional equipment that will help them in their presentation.

Check implementation plan (doc) for things to do after unit implementation.

Prerequisite Skills

  • Use of MS-Office applications (Microsoft Word*, Microsoft PowerPoint*, Microsoft Excel*, Microsoft Publisher*)
  • Use of web browsers and search engines.
  • Basic graph interpretation skills.

Differentiated Instruction
Resource Student

A different set of materials with more detailed discussions will be provided. Links to additional information on the Internet for access at home. 

Gifted Student
Gifted students will be provided with Microsoft Excel* templates to allow them to experiment with different variables. Simple formulae for some weather elements that the students can transform into a Microsoft Excel* template.

Additional work on weather modification focusing on the following topics may also be given to gifted students:

  • Evaluation of commercial methods for hail suppression.
  • Proposals for small-scale weather modification, e.g. preventing thunderstorms, tornadoes, etc.

Visual Learners
For the visual learners, the activities will be in the form of simulations.

Student Assessment
Group outputs will be evaluated using the following evaluation tools:

  • Multimedia Evaluation Tool (doc) - will be used to assess the group’s multimedia presentation and
  • Report Evaluation Tool (doc) - will be used to assess the group’s report in Web site format supporting their stand on whether to modify the weather or not.

Key Word Search

  • Changes in the atmosphere
  • Cloud formation
  • Cloud seeding
  • Rain
  • Weather
  • Weather modification

Alvin Flores, a former staff of UP NISMED who participated in the Intel® Teach to the Future Training last March 2003, developed this Unit Plan.  This is the enhanced version of Mr. Flores’ training output.

Rain, Rain, Go Away?

At a Glance

Grade Level: 7 (1st year high school)
Subject: Science
Time Needed: About 2 weeks (10 one hour class periods) and some extra time when the students are free to do research work.