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Local Geography’s Effect on Temperatures

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Keywords: weather, climate, temperatures, ocean, data analysis, graphing
Subject(s): Earth Science
Grades 6 through 12
NETS-S Standard:
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Oradell Elementary School, Oradell, NJ
Planned By: Denise Kuehner
Original Author: Denise Kuehner, Oradell
I. Lesson Rationale: It is important that the students understand that an area’s temperatures can be affected by the location.
II. Goals: SWBAT explain that inland cities’ temperatures can be more extreme than coastal areas.

III. Materials: computers or devices with internet access and spreadsheet software

IV. Next Generation Science Standards:
MS-ESS2-6. Develop and use a model to describe how unequal heating and rotation of the earth cause patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation that determine regional climates.
ESS2.D: Weather and Climate: Weather and climate are influenced by interactions involving sunlight, the ocean, the atmosphere, ice, landforms, and living things. These interactions vary with latitude, altitude, and local and regional geography, all of which can affect oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns.

V. Lesson Development

A. Opening Activity: Show the class a map of Peru and point out that it has coastal and inland cities. Explain that we will be looking for patterns in temperatures of these cities that can be explained by their location.

B. Activities:
a. Have each student (or group of students) find a map of Peru online, and ask them to make a list of at least 7 cities along the coast and 7 cities inland.
b. Ask the students which season it is in Peru at this time. They should notice that Peru is south of the equator, so if your class is in the Northern Hemisphere, Peru will be in the opposite season.
c. Have the students make a table in a spreadsheet listing the cities.
d. Have them go to a weather website, and find the previous days’ high temperature, and record it into their table. Ask them to find the average temperature for the coastal cities, and the average for the inland cities.
e. Ask them what patterns they notice. They should find that the coastal temperatures are more moderate, and the inland temperatures are more extreme. This effect is especially clear in the summer and winter months.
f. Ask the students why they think Peru was chosen for this activity (It has plenty of coastal and inland cities.)

C. Assessment/Closure: Lead the class in a discussion of their findings. Ask them to connect what they know about oceans and their temperatures to what they found today. Ask them to write a short summary describing their data and an explanation. Check for understanding: Teacher will ask true/false questions about the lesson content. Students respond with thumbs up/thumbs down. Make connections to places they know have moderate temperatures, such as Los Angeles, compared to inland cities like Chicago. Choose a city that is coastal, and ask them to make a prediction, then check the actual temperature online.

Links: link to The Weather Channel
Materials: Whiteboards, Middle School, Computer Accessories, Spreadsheet, Student Resources