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Lesson 1: Grades K–2
Lesson 2: Grades 3–5
Lesson 3: Grades 3–8
Lesson 4: Grades 6–8
Additional Resources

Lesson 4: An Extreme Research Report

Lesson Introduction: Older students can focus on researching the causes and effects of extreme weather.

Grade Level: 6–8

Ten class sessions

Student Objectives
Students will:

  1. Investigate various types of extreme weather
  2. Manipulate virtual temperatures and humidity to create specific weather conditions
  3. Use reading strategies to gather information
  4. Organize information on a graphic organizer
  5. Use proper writing conventions to complete an informative research report
  6. Share what they have learned with the class through an oral presentation


  1. Computer with printer
  2. Organizational Graphic Organizer (PDF)
  3. Paper/pencils
  4. Research Paper Assessment Rubric

Review the Be a Weather Detective and Weather Maker areas of Investigate Weather Causes.


Day 1

  1. Divide your class into thirds. Assign one group to Case 1, another to Case 2, and the remaining group to Case 3. Tell students their goal is to thoroughly investigate the facts provided for each case in order to determine what caused their particular climate conditions. Let students know their job will be to report their findings to the rest of the class.
  2. Have students visit the Investigate: Explore Climate Conditions site, so they can find their case and begin gathering facts to solve their case.
  3. After their case is solved, have students summarize in writing their conclusions for the mysterious weather conditions.
  4. Have students share their findings with the class.

Day 2

  1. Review and discuss some of the extreme weather conditions students encountered as Weather Detectives. Have the class share other types of extreme weather that they've experienced or read about; list these on a board or chart paper. (Save this list for Day 3.)
  2. Inform students they will be creating their own extreme weather along with calm non-extreme weather. In pairs, have students visit the Weather Maker section of Weather Watch.
  3. Allow students to explore creating different weather conditions, directing them to observe the effects of certain changes. Students should pay particular attention to air pressure, temperature, wind, and humidity.
  4. After students are familiar with how the machine works, ask them to manipulate the Weather Maker to create specific conditions such as a blizzard, a warm calm sunny day, or melting snow.

Day 3

  1. Revisit the list of extreme weather conditions students generated. Tell the class they will soon be choosing their own extreme weather conditions to research and report in.
  2. Review the Weather Facts (PDF) as a class. Discuss how each term can be related to an extreme weather condition. As a class, write a simplified and clear definition for each word. Have students record these meanings in their notebooks.
  3. Have students read through the recommended research topics in the Weather Watch Research Starter. Remind students to visit as many of the links as possible in order to generate a comprehensive list of possible topics. Advise students to star one or two topics that that they would be interested in learning more about.
  4. Come together as a class and have students share their research topic ideas. Once all the ideas are on the board, have each student pick one research topic.

Days 4–6

  1. If possible, arrange for each student to have computer access for at least one entire class period to do the necessary research. Also direct students to resources available in the classroom or school library.
  2. Once students have completed their research, they should outline their research paper, focusing on causes and effects of their extreme weather condition. Refer your class to the guidelines for Writing Workshops: Writing a Research Paper beginning with the "Draft" section. Once completed, students can publish their papers online.

Days 7–9

  1. Have students continue following the steps of Writing Workshop as they edit, revise, and review.

Day 10
Set aside time for students to share their reports with classmates through oral presentations.

Research Topics:

  • What happens when masses of air collide?
  • Hurricanes and typhoons
  • Blizzards
  • Weather Forecasting
  • Flying into the eye of a hurricane
  • Thunderstorms and how they form
  • The birth and life of a tornado

Assessment and Evaluation

  1. Were students able to navigate through the online activities successfully?
  2. Did students narrow possible topics to one appropriate for classroom research?
  3. Were students able to meet teacher expectations on the Research Paper Assessment Rubric?
  4. Did students clearly present their information in written form?
  5. Were students able to effectively communicate their findings during their oral presentation?

Lesson Extensions
There are many possible ways that students can present their research findings. Students can:

  1. Use poster board or tri-fold display board to present information with graphic aids
  2. Create a PowerPoint presentation to share what they have learned
  3. Videotape their presentation to show during class