The curriculum is broken down into four distinct phases. Phase 1 involves exciting and assessing students’ prior knowledge. Students will explore a weather scenario in the classroom and they will identify the key variables of weather, including precipitation, temperature, wind speed, and wind direction. Upon completion of this activity, students will understand that the weather varies from location to location, that weather moves with the wind. Additionally, students will gain an appreciation for the use of a visualization as a representation of real space. Phase 2 focuses on students developing their toolkit and investigating the weather as a scientific phenomenon. Students will use a top-down model to understand three main weather variables- temperature, precipitation, wind speed, and wind direction. By the end of this activity, students will understand why the weather changes, the impact of terrain on weather, and what happens when two differing air masses collide. During Phase 3, students will use real-world weather models and will learn how to read a regional weather map, monthly data charts, radar and satellite imagery. Finally, Phase 4 involves students becoming a forecaster. Students are asked to apply their newly gained knowledge to a real-world situation and will ultimately decide if an outdoor event being held in their forecast area should be cancelled . Students are given a specific location and they are asked to make a one-through-five-day forecast and an hourly forecast given an augmented real-time weather model of the United States. After creating a forecast, students are asked to communicate their forecast to local decision makers. This teaches students that even if they create a perfect forecast, it can still have major consequences if it is not effectively communicated to decision makers.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1640088.
Weintrop, D., Beheshti, E., Horn, M., Orton, K., Jona, K., Trouille, L., & Wilensky, U. (2015). Defining Computational Thinking for Mathematics and Science Classrooms. Journal of Science Education and Technology. doi:10.1007/s10956-015-9581-5