You can monitor the climate where you are by making your own homemade weather station.
Start by discussing the difference between weather and climate. Weather is the conditions of the atmosphere (temperature, cloudiness, precipitation, humidity etc) at a particular place over a short period of time > (minutes to weeks); whereas climate refers to the weather patterns, using statistical data, of a place over a long enough period to create trends and averages (often many years).
This activity can be suitable for Elfins (age 6-9) and Pioneers (age 10-12) however they will need assistance from adults at home.
What to do
Now to build some simple weather instruments, to help us observe the weather, and record what we find.
- Jam jar
- Lollipop sticks
- Remove the lid of the jam jar.
- Use the balloon to seal the top of the jar, and tape the lollipop stick to the centre of the balloon.
- Draw a measuring scale on a piece of cardboard and position it so that one end of the lollipop stick points to the scale on the cardboard.
- As air pressure increases, it pushes down on the balloon, causing the tip of the stick to rise on the scale. When it decreases, the air in the jar expands, pushing the tip down on the scale.
Anemometer & Wind Vane
- Balsa wood
- Dowel rod
- Sticky tape
- Yoghurt pot
- Map pin
- Make a stand from balsa wood and cardboard, with a central hole for the thick piece of dowel rod to sit in. Slot in the piece of dowel so that it stands vertically, but ensure that the rod can rotate freely.
- Make a cardboard vane that will turn the device to face into the wind. Attach this to the thick piece of dowel with sticky tape.
- Make a measuring arm from a yoghurt pot attached to a length of thin dowel rod. Attach this arm to the top of the thick dowel rod using a map pin, so that it pivots at the top of the vane. As the wind speed increases, the measuring arm will be pushed higher. Draw a scale on the vane so that you can accurately measure this movement.
- Add a direction indicator to the stand, at the bottom of the thick dowel, to show which way the vane is pointing. Make sure you align it correctly using a compass when you position your device.
- As the wind changes direction, the vane will turn the device into the wind. The strength of the wind is measured by observing the pivoting movement of the measuring arm.
- Plastic soft drink bottle (two-litre size),
- Marker pens,
- Scissors or a craft knife
- Firstly, carefully cut the top off a two-litre pop bottle using a craft knife. Leaving you with a straight edge and the neck of the bottle.
- Turn the neck upside down and push it back into the bottle. Use sticky tape to cover sharp edges if needed.
- Use a marker pen to add a scale to the side. This makes it easy to tell how much rainfall you have collected.
- As rain falls, the open bottle will collect the water and channel it into the storage area at the bottom. Using the top as a funnel helps to stop the stored water evaporating away.
Keep a group journal to record all of your findings, comparing them across a term. If you meet somewhere with its own weather station (some schools have them), you could take readings from there as well.
After a few weeks of taking readings with your homemade weather station, see if there are any patterns you can see. Have a look at historic data, either from your local area or country-wide (such as the data available from the Met Office). What patterns can you see?
Take it Further
Think about how might we need to adapt how we live if the weather becomes hotter, colder, wetter, or less predictable?
Find out some more about the natural world around you by conducting a Nature Survey.
This activity is adapted from a programme developed by the Scout Association.