Project Handbook
trusting the forecast project

Statement of Purpose:
Trusting the Forecast is an Internet-based weather curriculum for 9-12 grade students. This project gives students first hand experience in weather forecasting and all the issues that a meteorologist must consider when making a forecast.

Project Objectives:
Students should work in groups of 2-3 and learn to access current and forecast weather data through Internet resources. This data is used to make weather forecasts out to two days and the accuracy of these forecasts is analyzed through comparisons with observational data.

Meteorological phenomena and concepts students will be exposed to include: effects of cloud cover, snow cover and wind on forecasting temperatures, effects of cyclones and anticyclones on forecasting precipitation, the forecasting process, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and precipitation processes.

Project Overview:
This project requires up to 2-3 weeks of class time. The curriculum begins with students using the Weather Visualizer to access current weather data. (For students not involved with CoVis, a public-version of the Weather Visualizer is also available).

Students make a forecast for the next two days and in the two days that follow, record current observations to compare with their forecasts. Relevant scaffolding activities are available to teach students new skills and techniques to improve their forecasting abilities (hopefully). Each activity requires on average 90 minutes of class time.

Once the forecasting period is complete, students go back and analyze their predictions, determining accuracy of their forecasts and addressing possible reasons why they were wrong (if and when they were). Some questions that should be considered include; What type of weather conditions posed the most problems in forecasting? Did the forecasting accuracy improve over the time period as the students completed scaffolding activities?

Granted, students may figure out where to look up the National Weather Service forecasts, but these forecasts are often incorrect. These forecasts are made for large areas of the state, and are not always able to take into account local effects like, rivers, lakes and urban areas, which can have significant impacts on the local weather conditions. Students would have to consider local effects such as these. To provide students with an extra incentive to actually putting some thought into a forecast, there could be a contest among the students within the class, or even with students in other classes (or even other schools).

Students need to be comfortable using a web browser and accessing weather data on the Internet. Necessary meteorology resources are available to students through direct links strategically inserted into the curriculum pages.

Terms for using data resources. CD-ROM available.
Credits and Acknowledgments for WW2010.
Department of Atmospheric Sciences (DAS) at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

start up activity