In this investigation students explore one climate indicator, precipitation. The goal of the investigation is to provide students an opportunity to create a climate profile for their class based on their birthdays for 3 years since they were born. Determining the climate for a location, of course, includes more than 3 years (usually 10 years or more) and takes into account more than just precipitation as a climate indicator. While this investigation will not give students a true climate profile, it will allow them to see how even one climate indicator represents a collection of values over a period of time. Temperature, another climate indicator, is explored in a similar investigation in the K-4 Climate: Air module.


NOTE: If you are planning on using one of the A Way to Start Understanding Climate investigations in the K-4 Climate: Living Things or Air modules, collect weather (high temperature, wind speeds, type of precipitation, cloud cover. etc) data for all of the actual birth dates for your students for use in the Living Things investigation and high temperature data for the same time periods as this investigation for the Air investigation. Save that data for use in those investigations.


Using historical data allows you to proceed without collecting data day to day. Preparations for the investigation will require data retrieval on your part, but once you have your class data, preparing the profiles won't take much time at all. It looks more complicated than it is. Once you have collected your class data, the investigation is conducted in three parts: Preparation of Monthly Profiles, Preparation of Yearly Profiles and Preparation of the Composite "Climate" Profile. We suggest including your birthday data in the profile preparations.


Data needed (resources are provided in the What You Need section of this investigation):

Since you are using data selected on the basis on the birthdays of your students, you might have months that are missing and, of course, you're going to have days that are missing from each month. Don't worry about it. This is not a statistically valid method for building a climate precipitation profile. The goal is to get them thinking about how the amount of precipitation where they live changes from day to day during the year and from year to year and that climate is different from weather. Younger students can explore the seasons this way. Older students can explore data gaps as well and determine what data they think would be needed to prepare a valid profile.


The following precipitation descriptors and ranges* can easily be applied and correlated to sand colors**.

You could use Light Blue Sand to represent precipitation of less than 1 inch with older students if you want more variation in profiles.

 *Young students cannot use the values, but the descriptors can easily be applied and correlated to the sand colors.

**These colors were chosen because they are readily available at craft stores, correlate with temperature representations on many climate and weather mapping tools and are the colors normally associated with wet and dry. If you want to prepare a continuous color scale, you will need to establish your own ranges and use a mixture of no more than 2 colors of sand, like blue and white, combined in different proportions that result in a continuous color gradient scale. Note: Older students could use actual values, calculate averages and prepare graphs for their monthly and composite profiles.


What You Need:

What You Do:

Part I: Find That Info

 Part II: Preparation of Monthly Profiles

Part II A: Sand Layers Not Mixed

Part IIB: Sand Layers Mixed

Part III: Preparation of Yearly Profiles

Part IIIA: Sand Layers Not Mixed

Part IIIB: Sand Layers Mixed

Part IV: Preparation of your Class Climate: Precipitation Profile