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STEM ready

Local Weather and Climate

Driving or Multi-dimensional Question:

How can we, as Watershed Representatives, use weather information to plan a safe prescribed burn?

Unit Summary:

Students will be hands-on in creating weather tools in order to gain a strong understanding of weather. Students will make daily observations in order to plan a safe prescribed burn.

Hook Event:

Students will be asked to research answers to the following questions:

What is a prescribed burn?
How are prescribed burns helpful?

Students will use approved websites and books to research the answer to these questions. Then, students will present their findings to the class.

Students will then watch a video from about prescribed burns:

Culminating Event:

Students will be able to identify the optimal weather conditions and suggest a date for a prescribed burn. Students will be able to justify their reasoning with graphs from their daily observations in their weather journals.


Science Standards:

3.ESS2: Earth’s systems

3) Use tables, graphs, and tools to describe precipitation, temp, wind direction, and speed to determine local weather and climate.
4) Incorporate weather data to describe major climates.

Math Standards:

Draw a scaled picture graph and a scaled bar graph to represent a data set with several categories. Solve one- and two-step “how many more” and “how many less” problems using information presented in bar graphs.

ELA and Other Standards:

Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.

Speaking and Listening
3. SL. CC.1 Prepare for collaborative discussions of 3rd-grade level topics and texts, engage effectively with varied partners, build on others’ ideas, and express their own ideas clearly.

Daily Activities

For more information on this lesson please see the Lesson Resources below

DescriptionResources and Materials
Activity One

After the hook event, students will present their findings. Students will watch the video from to understand more about a prescribed burn. Students will then watch the video from to meet the TVA Watershed Representative, and understand more about his career. Students will need to understand how the watershed representative decides whether or not to plan a prescribed burn. Students will be introduced with their guiding questions.


Damien Simbeck's Story

Approved websites to research prescribed burns:


“Tools Measure Weather, “ by National Geographic Learning

Activity Two

Students will construct and observe a wind vane in order to understand from which direction the wind is coming. Students will use their weather vane to record the wind direction. Students will confirm their data, by using daily information. Students will deduct why this tool would be important for planning a prescribed burn and write in their weather journals.

Weather vane tools:

  • straw
  • paper cup
  • pencil
  • tac
  • plate
Activity Three

Students will construct and observe an anemometer to record the speed of the wind. Students will use their anemometer to record the speed of the wind and confirm their data using Students will deduct why this would be important for planning a prescribed burn and write in their weather journals.

Anemometer tools:

  • 6 straws
  • 2 cups
  • pencil
  • tape
  • plate
  • glue


Activity Four

Students will observe and answer questions about a real thermometer and rain gauge. Students will decide what temperature would be best for a prescribed burn, and whether or not precipitation would be good during a prescribed burn. Students will begin 5 days of observation here. Students will graph 4 things each day: wind speed, wind direction, temperature and precipitation.

  • Thermometer
  • rain gauge
  • weather journals
Activity Five

After 5 days of filling out weekly weather on their graphs, students will determine if there was an appropriate day to have a prescribed burn. Students will explain their findings and justify their reasons using their graphs as a visual. Students can choose to present this by making a video, a presentation in front of their peers, or writing a persuasive essay.


Technology Integration: Students will use a variety of technology including weather tools, student-made weather tools, weather journals, technology to complete research and technology to create a video of students presenting the chosen burn date.

Community PartnersContribution to Learning ExperienceContact Information
TVA professionalPotential guest speaker or in-the-field speaker via Skype. 
Local MeteorologistPotential guest speaker about predicting weather and using weather tools. 
FirefightersPotential guest speaker to speak about involvement in prescribed burns. 

Capstone Presentation:

Students will present their weather data in graph form. Students will choose a day from the period we graphed to have a prescribed burn. Students will suggest a day based on their findings of precipitation, temperature, and wind direction to present this day using their graph to the class through the choice of a video, presentation, or persuasive essay.

Lesson Resources