Climate and Weather Unit

Lesson Three
What Causes Irregular Temperature Patterns?

  • Brief Description
  • Objectives
  • Materials and Resources
  • Activity Description

  • Brief Description

         The study of hot-cold temperature differences in the United States is intended to broaden the students understanding of patterns in climate and weather. While examining the Weather and Climate database (from lesson 2), students will recognize a pattern of the high and low temperatures of cities along the same latitude, with a few variances. This lesson is intended to focus on the cause of those anomalies. Up to Contents

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        Students will:

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    Materials and Resources

  • World map.
  • Science Journals.

        In developing our lessons and activities, we made some assumptions about the hardware and software that would be available in the classroom for teachers who visit the LETSNet Website. We assume that teachers using our Internet-based lessons or activities have a computer (PC or Macintosh) with the necessary hardware components (mouse, keyboard, and monitor) as well as software (operating system, TCP/IP software, networking or dial-up software, e-mail and a World Wide Web client program, preferably Netscape, but perhaps Mosaic or Lynx). In the section below, we specify any "special" hardware or software requirements for a lesson or activity (in addition to those described above) and the level of Internet access required to do the activity.

      Special hardware requirements: Either an LCD projector or a TV Monitor hooked-up to the computer. This will allow the whole class to see the results as they sort and organize the data.
    1. Special software requirements: Any operating system that includes a database/spreadsheet program with the ability to sort large amounts of data and present a report.
    2. Internet access: Medium-speed (28,000 BPS via modem) or higher.
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    Activity Description

    1. Review the latitude principle.
      • Focus on other trends or patterns that they may notice.
      • Is there a general trend, with regard to temperature, when looking at the months of the year?
      • Which month is the hottest, coldest?

    2. Sort the data on latitude, include the location, and the months, January and July.
    3. Calculate the Maximum-Minimum temperatures by finding the difference between the average temperature of the hottest month and the average temperature for the coldest month.
      • Are there certain areas where the difference is more extreme, less extreme?
      • Locate these areas on the map.
      • Encourage students to make inferences as to why some locations are more extreme than others.
      • Do you notice any similar characteristics in the locations?
      • Are there some areas which seem to be less extreme, or temperate? Locate these areas on the map, and make inferences about a possible explanation.


        Provide students with a map, and several sets of data (be sure to include examples that show inconsistencies in the climate norms as a result of latitude or nearness to large bodies of water).

        Have students locate the areas, and write their interpretation as to the cause of temperature inconsistencies in those locations, according to either of the following principles:

    1. As latitude decreases, temperature increases (from lesson 2).

    2. If an area is near a large body of water, the high and low temperatures are less extreme.

        Students should write their explanation as to why they interpreted the example the way they did.

      Additional activities

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