WSU Whatcom County Extension

Stewardship is Where You Are

Weather Watchers

The Big Picture

Do you understand the difference between weather and climate? The weather is what is happening at any given time: it is snowing, it is sunny, it is drizzling rain. It is 42 degrees. The climate is an average of the temperature collected over many years that describes the general conditions of a location. That means that we look at weather reports from a long time ago up to today and use math and science to determine what kind of weather to expect for the place we are studying. If you expect it to be warm and sunny in Hawaii because it always is, you are thinking about climate. As citizen scientists it is very important that we learn the difference between what we perceive and think we remember about past weather, and what has been recorded as data. We can also be a part of that data collecting, and study our own weather for the benefit of others.

Explorer - Skill Level: One Engager - Skill Level: Two Citizen Scientist - Skill Level: Three


Photo by Melissa Ludtke, Sprouts of Hope, Roots & Shoots

Activity: Exploring Climate Change and Public Perceptions


Activity 1:  “Where in the World is Carbon” 
The activity in Explore More provides a great introduction to the chemical Carbon Dioxide and some of its origins.

Objectives: Explain the concept of 'sources' and 'sinks' as they relate to CO2, use an indicator solution (BTB) to reveal the presence of CO2 and understand the differences between animal and fossil fuel sources of global CO2.

Science Skills: Collecting Data, Measuring, Summarizing

Life Skills: Critical thinking, wise use of resources

Preparation Activities
Review the activity linked in “Explore More.”  Collect materials or check to see if they can be borrowed from your Extension Office.


Activity 2 : Measuring Your Carbon Footprint

Objective: Use online tools to make an estimation of personal carbon footprint

Science Skills: Measure, Use Numbers and Tools, Interpret Findings

Preparation Activities:
Review  Carbon Calculators in Explore More and chose one to use with group

There are several good websites in Explore More and tools to help you estimate your carbon footprint, and they each vary depending on how accurate you want to be.  Why not compare your answer between sites?


Activity 3: Climate Change Survey
Have the youth explore public opinion based on the perceptions of locals regarding climate and weather. Ask the youth to make sure that at least ½ of their interviewees are over 40 years old. It will be important youth can adequately explain the difference between weather and climate before delivering this survey to others.

Ask the Right Questions:
Have the team pool their results. Decide how to compile the responses. Are there patterns in responses? Do variables of age, occupation or time in the area appear to affect perceptions? How does the way we categorize our data effect how it is interpreted by others?



Natural Resource Stewards


Finished this Activity?

Complete this survey.


Explore More

“Where in the World is Carbon Dioxide?”
- Teacher Guide
- Student Guide

Carbon Calculator


What is Carbon, why does it effect global warming?

Western Regional Climate Center


It's All Connected

If you would like to share your organization's expertise in this area with 4-H youth, please contact Brenda Dunford, 4-H Extension Coordinator at:

Heading using the h3 tag

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

WSU Whatcom County Extension, 1000 North Forest Street, Suite 201, Bellingham, WA 98225, (360) 778-5800, Contact Us