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Predicting the Weather *

Difficulty
Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety No issues
*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.

Abstract

Before you head for school for the day, you might check the weather to see whether or not you need to wear a jacket or bring an umbrella. It is pretty easy for you to check the TV or internet to see what the weather will be like today, tomorrow, or even next week. The modern-day science of meteorology, or studying and predicting the weather, has many advanced tools at its disposal that make it easy for you to get this information.

How did people predict the weather before the invention of radar, satellites, and computers? Predicting the weather could be a life-or-death situation for sailors braving long ocean voyages, or farmers planting crops that they needed for the year. Before modern times, many people would use simple homemade devices or signs observed in nature to predict the weather. Have you ever seen a weather vane on top of a barn, pointing in the direction the wind is blowing? What about hearing a saying like "red sky at night, sailor's delight; red sky at morning, sailors take warning," or if that if cows are laying down in their fields, rain is coming? Is there any real science behind these sayings, or are they just myths?

Do an experiment to find out, by comparing three different methods of predicting the weather:

  • Use homemade measurement instruments, like a hygrometer, barometer, and weather vane. You will need to do research on what these instruments are, and how to build them yourself.
  • Use observations from nature, like the ones mentioned above. Old sayings may vary depending on where you live — ask some adults in your area, or do research on line to look up more of them.
  • As a control, use a professional forecast from a TV station or weather website.

For a period of a week or more, use each of the three techniques to predict the next day's weather. The following day, record the actual weather. Which techniques are the most accurate at predicting the weather? Which are the worst?

If you need help getting started with your research for this project, see the references in the Bibliography.

Credits

Ben Finio, PhD, Science Buddies
This project idea is based on Forecasting by Mari and Lindsey, an episode of DragonflyTV by PBS Kids.

Cite This Page

MLA Style

Finio, Ben. "Predicting the Weather" Science Buddies. Science Buddies, 16 Apr. 2015. Web. 21 Apr. 2015 <http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Weather_p001.shtml>

APA Style

Finio, B. (2015, April 16). Predicting the Weather. Retrieved April 21, 2015 from http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Weather_p001.shtml

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Last edit date: 2015-04-16

Bibliography

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