Weather is a fascinating subject for youths and adults. Young people learn a lot in an informal educational setting (such as 4-H) by working and learning with concerned and caring adults. It is important for us to share our skills and interests, but we must not lose sight of the main goal — to help youths develop into productive, concerned and caring adults themselves. Youths have different interests, abilities and learning styles. The 4-H Program recognizes this and provides educational programs using Experiential Learning, or “learn by doing” with all 4-H project work, including the weather project.
Why does the earth have cloudy, wet weather and sunny, dry weather? What can I do to prepare for potentially harmful weather conditions such as floods, winter storms, tornadoes and severe thunderstorms? How do temperature changes affect other weather conditions? What guidelines will help me better understand a television weather map and even make a simple weather forecast for my location?
Kentucky 4-H members discover the answers to these and other fascinating aspects of the weather in the four unit weather project. Youth progress from learning about elements that make up the weather to applying knowledge to forecast extremes and safeguarding themselves and others from severe conditions.
To reinforce this knowledge, 4-H members take part in a variety of hands-on activities in the weather project. For example, 4-Hers might use a globe or large ball and lamp to demonstrate how the earth rotates on its own axis (giving us day and night) and how tilting toward and away as it travels around the sun gives us seasons. 4-H youth experiment with making a cloud and building a simple barometer to measure air pressure changes. They also learn how to prepare for severe weather conditions. Making a winter storm kit for the family vehicle is an important project to complete with their parents or other 4-H Club members.
4-H Club members also build a rain gauge, wind vane, cup anemometer and air hygrometer to measure humidity. Then, they use this equipment to make and record weather observations for several months. As their weather knowledge increases, 4-H members better understand television weather reports, including the current surface weather map, weather watches and warnings, current and future forecasts and the location of the jet stream and its impact on weather conditions.
• Observing the weather and keeping records of its changes;
• Making and using simple, inexpensive instruments for observing the weather;
• Developing inquiring minds, asking questions, and systematic searching for answers;
• Encouraging youth to read supporting materials; and
• Learning about the weather, its effects and what causes it to change.
All these activities and related information are collectively featured in the four 4-H weather project units: The Weather Makers, Billboards in the Sky, Weather Variables and Weather Forecasting.
For more information on the weather project and other fun and education 4-H projects, contact Raymond Cox at the Harlan County Cooperative Extension Service.
Raymond Cox is the Harlan County extension agent for 4-H/youth development. Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.