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High School Meteorology Projects

by Flora Richards-Gustafson, studioD

High school meteorology projects focus on more than just weather. They help students understand how the different elements in the atmosphere come together to create the outdoor conditions that they directly and indirectly experience. Meteorology projects can also help teens learn how atmospheric conditions affect societies, agriculture, aviation and the oceans on micro-, meso-, synoptic and global scales.

The Realities of Weather Lore

For this project, a student determines if any folklore regarding the weather are true. Examples of weather lore include the sayings, "Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning / Red sky at night, sailor's delight;" "No weather is ill, if the wind be still;" "Seagull, seagull, sit on the sand. It’s never good weather when you’re on the land;" and "When halo rings the moon or sun, rain’s approaching on the run." To test these theories and others, a student records his lore-based observations and weather predictions for at least 14 consecutive days. He also uses a homemade hygrometer, barometer and weather vane, as well as reports from the local weather service to record the conditions for each day. At the end of the project, the teen explains which weather lore do and do not have any merit and why.

The Effects of Water Temperature on Tornadoes

For this meteorology project, a student determines if the temperature of water affects the size of a tornado’s core. The teen discusses how tornadoes form from supercells and points out areas of the earth that are affected the most by the twisters, like the U.S. Midwest, New Zealand and Italy. To test her theory, the teen makes a tornado chamber with pieces of windshield glass, wooden boards and a bathroom exhaust fan. She then places a piece of dry ice in the middle of a pan of water inside the tornado chamber and turns on the exhaust fan to see how quickly a tornado forms and how big it gets. The student repeats the test using pans of water that vary in temperature and records the results.

Sun-Powered Storms in the Ionosphere

The sun causes geomagnetic storms in the ionosphere that can affect satellites that orbit the earth. By tracking the 24 satellites that orbit the planet for the global positioning system using a WAAS-capable GPS receiver, a student can determine if errors in GPS signals relate to geomagnetic storms in the ionosphere. For the project, the student stands in the same spot twice a day over the course of three weeks. Whenever the teen is at the location that he chose, he records the time, latitude, longitude and altitude readings provided by the GPS unit with the WAAS on and off. He also notes if there’s a difference in any of the readings, which are “error signals.” By comparing the error signals to the geomagnetic storm activity recorded on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Space Weather Prediction Center’s website, the student can determine if the error reading occurred at the same time, and therefore as a result of, a storm.

Severe Weather Emergency Plan

For this project a student explains the types of severe weather events that could occur in her area and the societal impacts that they could have in regards to injuries and the cost of damages. The teen then designs an emergency disaster plan for her family to use in the event of a severe weather emergency and an evacuation. In this plan, the teen identifies emergency shelters in her community and the route that her family would use to get to each shelter after consulting with the local emergency services about the roads that may close during a weather event. The student also indicates a safe spot where family members should meet if the family isn’t at home when a disaster occurs. For the project, the teen builds an emergency kit with essentials the family needs for at least three days and explains the types of documents and phone numbers to include in the kit.

About the Author

Flora Richards-Gustafson has been writing professionally since 2003. She creates copy for websites, marketing materials and printed publications. Richards-Gustafson specializes in SEO and writing about small-business strategies, health and beauty, interior design, emergency preparedness and education. Richards-Gustafson received a Bachelor of Arts from George Fox University in 2003 and was recognized by Cambridge's "Who's Who" in 2009 as a leading woman entrepreneur.

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