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



Activity:  Measuring Temperature, Wind and Rain

Objective:  collect  consistent and accurate data collection with self created data tools
Science Skills:  data collection, confirming data against multiple sources
Life Skills:  critical thinking
Preparation Activities
Review “Weather Watch” from the 4-H Curriculum Exploring Your Environment.
Ask youth if they remember the weather  a month ago on a specific day.  Why would knowing / predicting the weather be important?   How does having specific records of past weather help us?  How do we make predictions? 

What You Will Need

- Observation Log
- Pencil
- Outdoor thermometer
- Coffee can
- Ruler
- Clear jar with flat bottom (spaghetti/olive jar)
- Scissors
- Wide clear tape
- Two liter plastic bottle
- Construction paper
- Push pin
- Pencil with eraser

Activity:  Weather Logging
Explain to youth that a good observation log would include environmental records such as temperature, wind and precipitation.   Ask why that information could be important.

What would be important about collecting a data of the weather?  (ex:  daily highs and lows, checking against forecasts,  collecting at the same time each day).
Youth can use the same calendar from other activities or an observation log to record their information.
Comparing their own data with that of a qualified source will help raise worthwhile questions.

There is no shortage of weather web sites available online.  We recommend  using the WSU AgWeatherNet (linked in Explore More) to get accurate readings for your county.  Youth can check their data against the data available on the Washington Map by rolling their cursor over the weather stations near their location.  Checking  online data that is not a high or low should be done at relatively the same time each day to confirm accuracy.

On windy days practice making wind assessments both from beaches and on land using the Beaufort scale. (see below)

Beaufort Wind Scale for Land (add jpg)

Citation: From “The Power of Wind”  National 4-H Curriculum #  08383

Important Tools:

Fahrenheit to Celsius and Back Again

Formula: Convert Fahrenheit to Celsius

1. Subtract 32 degrees from the Fahrenheit temperature.
2. Multiply by 5.
3. Divide by 9.

Formula: Convert Celsius to Fahrenheit

1. Multiply the Celsius temperature by 9.
2. Divide by 5
3. Add 32

Asking the Right Questions:
How do we explain differences in our data?  When do high temperatures generally happen? When do low temperatures generally happen?  How consistent were we on collecting data at the same time each day? How accurate is our data compared to other sources?

For a deeper exploration into Wind Energy try the 4-H Activity Guide “The Power of the Wind.”




Natural Resource Stewards


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Explore More

EcoKids Planet Protector

Beaufort Scale for Waterbodies

Ag Weather Net:

State Climatologist


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 Coordinator at:

Heading using the h3 tag

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