Observing Weather and Collecting Data
Integrating Meteorology and Journey North

ongoing as students make local weather observations and analyze the impact of weather during the Journey North season

* Journey North maps
* Weather maps and links


Overview: As you make local observations and analyze Journey North News updates, maps, and data, think critically about how weather influences seasonal events.

Seasonal and day-to-day changes in weather dramatically influence the growth of plants and the timing and course of migration. Factors such as temperatures, wind speed and direction, pressure fronts, and precipitation can affect a migrating animal's route and timing, energy use and conservation, and physical health. These can also affect availability of food sources, such as plants, worms, insects and nectar. Throughout Journey North News updates, you'll find suggestions for exploring questions about the influence of weather on seasonal events.

Exploration: Follow Local Weather

  1. You can set up a schoolyard weather station to track these types of local weather phenomena.
  2. Gather weather data from the schoolyard weather station, save the daily weather maps from your newspaper, or view local online weather maps. (Also see Tips on Reading Weather Maps.) Use this data to help you make predictions and look for patterns in Journey North studies.

Exploration: Compare Journey North Maps with Weather Maps

  1. With any Journey North study, pay attention to the data and maps in Journey North News updates. Next, compare this information with weather data and maps from the same period in the current year or past ones.
  2. Routinely ask yourselves, Where have our species, plants, or other signs of spring been observed? Are there any patterns or relationships between weather and these seasonal events? You may want to start simply, by looking at just one factor, such as temperatures. Eventually, you can begin to look at a combination of factors.

Making Connections
Here are some general questions to ask yourselves when comparing weather maps with weekly or archived Journey North maps:

  • What patterns do we notice?
  • How would we explain them? What statements could we make?
  • Do temperatures (or wind direction or speed, air pressure, weather fronts) seem to affect migrations or plant growth? If so, how? What's our evidence? Why do we think that occurs?
  • What do we predict will happen next (for instance, with the direction or pace of the migration)? Why?

Teacher Tip: See what fourth grade teacher Dave Kust has to say about weather and migration.


Departure from
Normal Temperatures

You can find these maps here.

You may also want to compare current data with maps in the Journey North archives or with maps showing how the temperatures depart from normal temperatures for each period of time.

(This assessment tool provides a visual example that combines both ideas.)


National Science Education Standards

Science as Inquiry

  • Use data to conduct a reasonable explanation. (K-4)
  • Develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using evidence. (5-8)
  • Think critically and logically to make a relationship between evidence and explanations. (5-8)

Life Science

  • Organisms have basic needs and can survive only in environments in which their needs can be met. (K-4)
  • The behavior of individual organisms is influenced by internal cues (such as hunger) and by external cues (such as a change in the environment). (K-4)

Earth Science

  • Weather changes from day to day and over the seasons. Weather can be described by measurable quantities, such as temperature, wind direction and speed, and precipitation. (K-4)

Geography Standards

  • How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information.