We are back in the outdoors and it is cold. But, it’s supposed to be cold in January, right? Well, then why was it so warm during the holiday break? Students in our class examined this question first thing upon returning back to school after our holiday break. They were asked if they experienced any funny weather during the break. Some students said there were days when it was hot. However, our first day back at school and back outside with the Outdoor Program was very cold. So, what is causing this funny weather and these crazy temperatures?
Here are some of our student’s thoughts:
- It’s because of El Nino
- The Earth is a mystery
- Cold air from Canada is being blocked from moving into the U.S.
- The sun is not strong enough, the usual tilt of the Earth’s axis is somehow off this year
After a discussion about the weather, we did an activity where students acted as the earth and moved around the room tilting and leaning to and from the sun to give them an idea of what is happening to make the winter season begin in the northern hemisphere.
Next, we discussed the idea of temperature. To start, students began with cities on the classroom map. Each table in the room was given a different city. One was in California, one was in the middle of the country in Kansas, one was in sunny Florida, another was way up in North Dakota and the last was way down in southern Texas. Students were asked to guess what they thought the temperature high and low would be for the day. They were asked to explain why they guessed the way they did. Then, after they worked together to make their hypotheses, we looked up the temperatures on the internet.
Quinn: It’s warmer in Florida because it’s closer to the equator.
Liam: Yea, North Dakota is colder because it’s further away.
Student’s then used this same approach and gathered real-time data in the arboretum. Three thermometers were placed around the park and students walked around to gather data on the different temperatures, starting with a guess, then looking at the thermometer.