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Extreme

Weather: Thunderstorms

Exploring Sensors: How good of a Meteorologist are you?


Title
Exploring Sensors: How good of a Meteorologist are you?
Introduction Unit: Weather -> Extreme Weather -> Thunderstorms
This lesson plan focuses on middle school students exploring how to use a TI
Sensor to predict thunderstorms. The students should have already learned about
different types of extreme weather. Now, they will be learning about just
Thunderstorms. The introduction will be a quick clip that talks about the
importance of weather forecasting. Then they will have an activity of writing a
paragraph in their interactive notebooks about a time when the weather
forecasters were wrong about the weather and how it impacted them. A
discussion piece will follow their writing which will directly lead into talking
about meteorologists and types of careers that they have besides just the
forecasters on the weather channel. The last portion of the introduction will
focus on transitioning briefly to the latest research available for sensors that will
aid and assist meteorologists in predicting weather patterns for storms. The
Center for Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and
Technologies (ASSIST) at NC State University is making huge strides to
provide prototypes to aid and assist with many health challenges around the
world. The students will become familiar with the ASSIST program through a
short clip before going into more detail about types of sensors. There will also be
a time for them to ask questions to the teacher before moving on to the lesson on
predicting the weather. After this introduction on the importance of weather
forecasting and sensors, it will lead into learning how to operate the TI sensor
for predicting thunderstorms using the Engineering Design Process.
Real Science The background behind sensors is quite impressive. In 2007, NSF was given
Application $20.0 million dollars to help support the leading edge, frontier research on
sensors. Sensors have been used for national security, healthcare,
environmental safety, and energy resource management. They can also predict
and detect problems in a system before they even arise as a main issue. Also,
The National Science Foundation proposes a FY 2008 investment of $6.43
billion to advance the frontiers of research and education in science and
engineering. The NSF FY 2008 Budget Request includes an increase of $408.79
million (6.8 percent) over the FY 2007 Budget Request. At this level, NSF will
build on recent advances and support promising initiatives to strengthen the
Nations capacity for discovery and innovation.
https://www.nsf.gov/about/budget/fy2008/pdf/EntirePDF.pdf
The goal of this lesson is for the students to understand how the sensor can be
used to predict the weather and then to briefly look at other applications for the
sensor.

Extreme Weather: Thunderstorms


Curriculum
Alignment

Learning
Outcomes

Time
Required
and
Location

Content
Area
Science

Grade
Level
7th

NC Essential Standards

NGSS / Common Core Math

Objective 7.E.1.4
MS-ESS2-5:
Collect data to provide
Predict weather
conditions and patterns evidence for how the
motions and complex
based on information
interactions of air masses
obtained from:
Weather data collected results in changes in weather
conditions.
from direct
observations and
measurements (wind
speed and direction, air
temperature, humidity
and air pressure),
Weather maps,
satellites and radar,
cloud shapes and types
and associated
elevation.
Students will be able to:
1. Identify the types of weather coverage from high and low-pressure
environments.
2. Manually graph on a piece of paper two different graphs that look at
humidity and barometric pressure data from five days.
3. Explain which type of graph is the best to use for the data points collected.
4. Conduct a lab investigation for five days on predicting a thunderstorm using
the Engineering Design Process.
This lesson can be done in multiple ways depending on how the school is set
up. If the school is on a schedule where the teacher sees all of the students every
day, then the students would have the overview and initial part on Monday and
would record the data Tuesday-Friday and then finish up on that following
Monday.
If the school is on a block-schedule where the teacher would only see his/her
students three days a week, then the first day would be the entire lab (100
minutes approximately including indoor and outdoor part) and the recording
data would continue to be done on the next four days that the teacher sees them
in class.

Extreme Weather: Thunderstorms


Time
Required
and
Location

This lesson can be done in multiple ways depending on how the school is set
up. If the school is on a schedule where the teacher sees all of the students every
day, then the students would have the overview and initial part on Monday and
would record the data Tuesday-Friday and then finish up on that following
Monday.
If the school is on a block-schedule where the teacher would only see his/her
students three days a week, then the first day would be the entire lab (100
minutes approximately including indoor and outdoor part) and the recording
data would continue to be done on the next four days that the teacher sees them
in class.

Timing:
1. 50 minute class period will consist of staying in the classroom to discuss
background information on careers, sensors, how the TI sensor works, and then
introducing the Engineering Design Process.
2. 50 minute class period will consist of going outside to collect the data and
then coming back into the classroom to make a graph and talk about results.
3. 50 minute class period on the fifth day of recording the data will consist of
the groups choosing a type of graph for their data points and then individually
making two graphs and answering reflections in their notebooks. The
information on the graphing and reflection questions will be included in the
Power Point handout. Estimation would be about 30 minutes of class time to
finish.
Materials
Needed

Teacher list:
Power point Presentation (to introduce information)
Ben-Q
Teacher laptopClass set of power point handoutsClass set of TI
Sensors (How many per student)
Class set of Student worksheets Graphing Paper
Student List

Safety

Student

Prior
Knowledge

Smart Phone (1 per group)


Pencil
Power point handouts (1 per student)
Student worksheets (1 per student): data chart and reflection
questions
1. Do not throw rocks and dirt when entering outside environment.
2. Do not throw the TI Sensor or take it apart.
3. Do not run in the hallway/outside. Make sure to walk and listen for the next
set of instructions.
Extreme weather is the last section on the unit of weather that is taught.

Therefore, this lab on predicting thunderstorms will be one of the last items
discussed in this unit. Students should already have prior knowledge on
knowing the definitions of air pressure, humidity, temperature, and altitude
from learning about the layers in the atmosphere. However, they may not know
how air pressure and humidity works together to predict the weather. Also, it
would still be beneficial to briefly discuss the definitions again before going

Extreme Weather: Thunderstorms


Activities

Students will enter classroom and get out their interactive notebooks.

10 minutes

Engage:
Students will watch a short clip on the importance of weather forecasting. (link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbzdHz1Xj48) Upon completion of the
video, each student will write in their own notebooks about a time when they
thought the weather was going to be a certain way but it actually ended up
being the exact opposite. It needs to be five sentences long and it must be
thorough. They need to include the situation that occurred and also how it made
them feel when they could not accurately predict what the weather was doing.
The teacher will choose a few students to share their experiences with the
classroom.

5 minutes

20 minutes

Explore:
After discussion is over, students will briefly learn about Meteorologists and the
different job functions that they can have. The information below will be in a
Power Point provided as well.
Operational Forecaster analyzes weather conditions and issues
forecasts or alerts.
Research Meteorologist studies more specific areas of weather like
severe weather or climate change.
Military Meteorologists makes weather observations and forecasts
for missions around the world.
Other job functions that they have:
Help airlines know weather conditions
Help electric companies know if a heat wave is coming
Help road crews with snow/hail predictions
Help fruit/vegetable farmers to know when to turn their
sprinklers on when a cold snap might be occurring.
Help with radio and television stations
Help in teaching
(http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/people/jobs/careers.php)
Storm Chasers: https://tvnweather.com/live

Explain:
After talking about the different types of careers of Meteorologists, the content
will transition into talking about how Meteorologists use sensors to predict the
weather. However, before explaining the process involved, it is important for
the students to know what sensors are, how they are important, and what is the
current research involving these sensors. Therefore, the students will watch a
short clip on sensors and how the Assist Center at NC State University uses
them to harvest energy and create self-powered wearable devices using
nanotechnology. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmiP_voM8UQ)
After the video, the teacher will facilitate a brief Q&A session with the
students that have questions or thoughts about the new technology. After

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the discussion, the teacher will tell them that they are going to be using a
sensor today to help predict the weather.
However, before going into detail about the sensor, the teacher will need to
review some vocabulary words and definitions on temperature, humidity, wind
speed and direction, dew point, and atmospheric pressure. Below are the notes
that will be on the Power Point slide.
Temperature
o A measure of the airs hotness or coldness and is the most
measured quantity of the atmosphere.
Humidity
o The amount of water vapor in the air
Wind Speed and Wind Direction
o Moving air caused by differences in air pressure. Air moves
from an area of higher pressure to an area of lower pressure. If
there were no wind, there wouldnt be much day-to-day
difference in our weather.
Dew Point
The temperature at which the air can no longer "hold" all of the water
vapor, which is mixed with it, and some of the water vapor must
condense into liquid water.
Atmospheric Pressure
o Atmospheric pressure is a measure of the weight of air in
atmospheres above us. Air is made up of molecules of elements
in gaseous state and minute dust particles.
After discussing the types of ways to predict the weather, the teacher will tell
the students that they are going to be doing a lab only measuring the humidity
and barometric pressure outside.
* Essential Question: How can I use the TI Sensor to predict the weather?
Briefly talk about how the students are going to be using the TI Sensor Tag to
record their data for the lab today. At this point, the students should have at
least seen the TI Sensor Tag in a previous lesson on One Health, but if not, then
the teacher should take some time to introduce the sensor and explain the
specific functions of it.
15 minutes

Explore:
After completing the introduction to the TI Sensor Tag, the teacher will decide
how to put the students into groups of four. One option is having the students
pick only one partner and then the teacher groups the two students with another
group of two students. Another option could be allowing certain classes to pick
all of their group members and other classes that may be more difficult with
classroom management having the teacher group everyone into certain groups.
Once the students are in their groups, the teacher will talk about how to set up
the TI Sensor Tag with their Smart Phone. There is a slide in the Power Point as

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a reference to show as the students are working in their groups. There is an


overview sensor lesson that will give more information for the teacher on how
to help the students with their devices. Go to http://assistonehealth.com/lessonplans/overview-lesson-plans/ for the overview lesson plan. After a few minutes
of familiarizing themselves with the device, the teacher will show them the next
slide dealing with the two sensors that they will be using from the TI Sensor.
The very next Power Point slide shows an example for the students about how
their data from one day will look on the graph for the TI Sensor Tag. However,
they will not be just taking a screen capture of their phones for this project.
They will be making their own graph with the data points after five days.
Then, the teacher will give them a little bit more background knowledge on
humidity and barometric pressure. The teacher will cover the difference
between high and low-pressure systems, the average barometric pressure and
the average humidity in Raleigh. Then, there will be a visual mapping on the
Power Point to show the students these high and low pressure systems again.
Even though the students would have already learned about map symbols and
high/low pressure systems, it will still be good to review.
2nd Class Period of 50 minutes:
30 minutes

Explore:
It will begin with the teacher reviewing the steps of the Engineering Design
Process and its importance to not forget any steps. The teacher should have
already gone over these steps in a previous lesson before starting this one. The
teacher may write the process on a white board or just say what each step is
briefly. The following information is from the Power Point and the teacher will
need to have the slides up. The importance of these slides is that it is going over
the Engineering Design Process one step at a time.

1. Identifying the Problem Can you predict a thunderstorm using only the
humidity and barometer sensors on the Sensor Tag?
2. Making a Hypothesis If ____________, then ______________.
Examples: If the humidity is 100%, then precipitation will occur.
If the barometric pressure is high, then the sky will be clear.
3. Recording Your Data this portion of the lesson will have the students
figuring out what responsibilities each person will have. After the
responsibilities are figured out then the teacher will take the students outside to
record the data.
*Data Sheet is included at the end of this lesson
The students will be in groups of four with the following Responsibilities:
a. Sensor Tag Holder
b. Smart Phone Holder
c. Data Sheet Reporter
d. Time Keeper

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Instructions: This portion is to be completed outside.


1. Hold Sensor Tag out in front of you for five minutes in order for the data to
populate on the BLE Sensor App for the Smart Phone.
2. The student holding the Smart Phone should be paying attention to the data
and the graph that is populating in order to make sure that it is recording the
information accurately. If there is no data points and the graph is not plotting
the points then that means that the Sensortag might have turned off and the
students should turn their sensor tags back on. They will click the on switch on
the Sensortag and then will need to close the Sensortag app on their phone and
re-open the app. Once they open the app back up, they need to search
underneath Bluetooth Smart Devices to find theirs if they have an I-phone
and if they have an Android then they will just need to click on one available
that is not already renamed by another device. Once they click on the location,
it should show them their data points again. At this point, they can click on the
option to graph their data and it should within a few seconds start to graph the
data being generated by the TI Sensortag.
3. Have the timekeeper begin a timer of five minutes on either his/her watch or
phone. The data collected gives the best results if allowed for five minutes to
record.
4. After five minutes, the recorder will write down the humidity and barometric
pressure from the Smart Phone onto their individual data sheet while still being
outside. It will make it easier to have just the recorder write down the data
outside in order to steer away from students potentially losing their data sheets.
As a group, they should decide on whether they believe there is a chance of a
thunderstorm that day and why. After they have decided as a group, then they
will come back inside after being outside for a total of only ten minutes. Once
they are all inside, the recorder will make sure that the other group members
know what the data points were in order for them to record them in their
notebook. The data sheet is attached at the end of this lesson plan.
*Note: this second half of the lesson will probably not take the entire 50
minutes and so it would be a great time to go over what to expect for the next
several days in class with the lab. The teacher may even go over the last few
slides so that the students are familiar with what type of questions they should
be expected to answer after completion of the lab.
20 minutes

Elaborate:
This final section will be completed once the students have all five days worth
of values for the humidity and barometric pressure recorded from class-time.
Each day they should have decided on whether they believed that a
thunderstorm wouldve occurred or not and why. The students will then work in
their groups to determine if their data points should be plotted as a line, bar, or a
pie graph. If some of the team members disagree that is okay because each

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Assessment

10 minutes

student will be plotting their own values as a graph into their interactive
notebook. If the teacher does not want them to record their data into an
interactive notebook, then they need to provide another means of recording the
data. Then, each person should create two different graphs of the data points
collected in their interactive notebooks. One graph will be on humidity and the
other will be barometric pressure. The x-axis should be the # of days and the Yaxis will be % of humidity on one graph and the other will be barometric
pressure levels. For a refresher on graphing, there is a Power Point called
Graphing 101 that is included in this lesson plan as a separate document.
This portion of the lesson plan ties into the elaboration portion that previously
had the students answer questions about what type of graph they would use and
then graphing the data points.
Evaluate:
This last section will have reflection questions that each student must answer on
their own in order for me to see how much they have learned from the lab.
Below are the questions.
1.Which day had the highest humidity during data collection?
2.When humidity is projected to be 100%, what does this mean?
3.Which chart type did you choose to represent your data and why?
4.Would recording your data after one minute yield the same results as five
minutes?
5.Look at your chart. Which days should there be a thunderstorm? How do you
know a thunderstorm will occur on these days?

Extension
Activities

If there were more time and resources available, then there could be stations set
up all across the room with different climate and geographical terrain examples
present in each station. The students could do research on that particular area
and how they could use the TI Sensor tag to measure the humidity and
barometric pressure levels in that climate. They could include information about
the topography, soil levels, and air pollution that would potentially also affect
the environment in that area. Also, they could research the average humidity
and barometric pressure in that area and explain the values generated.

Modificatio
ns

Special Education Modifications:


1. Have them only record 3 days of the humidity and barometric pressure.
2. The teacher could group these students together and actually do the recording
with them the first day in order to show them how to read the data values from
the Smart phone.
3. Have the students pick three out of the five reflection questions that they
want to answer.

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ESL Modifications:
1. Have them only record 3 days of the humidity and barometric pressure.
2. Instead of having them create a graph and answer the reflection questions,
they could draw three pictures one for each day that they recorded. They
would have to draw what the weather looked like outside and would have to
determine if any of the days had a thunderstorm that might occur. If so, then
they would need to draw a thunderstorm onto their picture.
Alternative
Assessments

Special Education Assessments:


1. Accurate recording of the data for three days.
2. Participation in their group for the recording of the data outside.
3. Assessing how they answered the three out of five questions that they could
pick from.
ESL Assessments:
1. Accurate recording of the data for three days.
2. Participation in their group for the recording of the data outside.
3. Their three drawings would be an assessment based on how well they
included all of the information such as actually drawing what the weather
looked like to predicting whether a thunderstorm would occur or not.

References

1. Importance of Weather Forecasting - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbzdHz1Xj48


2. Wearable sensors to monitor triggers for asthma, and more - Science Nation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmiP_voM8UQ
3. NSF Statistics and Budgeting on Sensors.
https://www.nsf.gov/about/budget/fy2008/pdf/EntirePDF.pdf
4. Science Standards from http://cmapp.wcpss.net/
5. Types of Jobs for Meteorologists. http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/people/jobs/careers.php
6. Storm Chasers. https://tvnweather.com/live
7. Graphing 101 PDF from www.google.com

Supplement
al
Information

Since this lesson plan is based off of doing a lab, there is not many additional
resources to offer. The students are not doing a web quest or any other
programs online that they would need to have access to. The only thing that
might be useful is www.weather.com to either look up data for the humidity and
barometric pressure or any current articles that might be useful to implement
into the lesson if need be.
* This lesson plan was developed to last five consecutive days originally.
However, in realizing that not every school would have the same schedule, I
modified it so that any teacher could use it for five class periods. I chose to have
a lot of background information presented first on weather forecasting and
sensors to get them engaged before beginning the lab.
* I chose to not have them set up their sensor tags until it was time to actually
begin the lab because I knew that they would probably start playing with them
instead of paying attention to the rest of the information.
* If a teacher wanted to shorten the lesson plan, they could maybe only record
data for three days instead of five.
* If a teacher wanted to extend the lesson plan, they could have the students

Comments

Extreme Weather: Thunderstorms


Comments

* This lesson plan was developed to last five consecutive days originally.
However, in realizing that not every school would have the same schedule, I
modified it so that any teacher could use it for five class periods. I chose to have
a lot of background information presented first on weather forecasting and
sensors to get them engaged before beginning the lab.
* I chose to not have them set up their sensor tags until it was time to actually
begin the lab because I knew that they would probably start playing with them
instead of paying attention to the rest of the information.
* If a teacher wanted to shorten the lesson plan, they could maybe only record
data for three days instead of five.
* If a teacher wanted to extend the lesson plan, they could have the students
give a group presentation at the end about their data and if they could accurately
predict which days might have a thunderstorm occur.
* In working with this sensor, one thing to keep in mind is to make sure any
trouble shooting begins before teaching this lesson. For example, the first time
that I worked with the sensor it took a little while to figure out how to find my
device on it and to rename it.
* I also found that only I-phones not Androids will allow you to rename the file
on the app. For more help go to: http://www.ti.com/tool/cc2541dk-sensor.
* I recommend to set up one device at a time in the groups. That way not every
group is trying to find the files on the app all at one time. If time does not
permit that, then the teacher rename the devices before the lesson begins.
* If there is no weather change after completing this lab for five teaching days,
then one option is to allow a few weeks to go by and then revisit the weather
outside again. Another option instead of going outside is to go to the LIVE
Storm Chasers website: https://tvnweather.com/live. It would help to see in real
time what the weather is doing and then www.weather.com would have the data
for the humidity and barometric pressure of that day.

Author
Information

My name is Crystal Pennypacker and I teach at Carroll Magnet Leadership in


Technology Magnet Middle School in Raleigh, NC. I will be starting my third
year of teaching 7th grade Science in the fall. I graduated from North Carolina
State University with a degree in Middle School Science Education.
This lesson was created as part of a Research Experience for Teachers (RET) at
NC States ASSIST center alongside Dr. Jesse Jur and Dr. Elena Veety. The
ASSIST center focuses on creating wearable sensor technology that is selfpowered. Dr. Jesse Jur, Assistant Professor in the College of Textiles, and Dr.
Elena Veety, Education Director for the ASSIST Center have provided many
strategies to create lesson plans that are engaging, dynamic, and innovative in
using the Engineering and Design Process. It is a great program that has
challenged me to become a better, more effective teacher in the classroom by
utilizing the latest nanotechnology and energy harvesting concepts into my
lessons.
If you have any questions about the lesson or implementing it in any way please
contact me at cpennypacker@wcpss.net.

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Name: ______________

Date: _____________

Recording Your Data


Day

Humidity

Barometric

Chance of
Thunderstorm
(Yes/No)