Weather Forecast

Introduction

Subject: Math or Science

Grade Level: Middle Grades (Grades 5-9)

Weather forecasts are flashed all over TV, newspapers, the Internet and more. These forecasts are often different and therefore, someone has to be wrong.  There are various reports occurring across the United States that some weather forecasters are not giving accurate forecasts.  

Here are some recent weather report that caused some problems:

  • The Heaters minor league baseball game was cancelled in response to a cold and rainy forecast.  Shocked fans and players stayed at home and basked in clear skies and warm temperatures.
  • John left his house without a jacket and walked to work after seeing a forecasted high of 75 F.  A cold front moved through in the afternoon and by the time John walked back home, the temperature was 48 F.  It took three days for John to stop sneezing and coughing.

These events are becoming more and more frequent and are occurring all over the United States.  The Government has stepped in to attempt to solve the problem.  The Government believes that the problems are caused by incorrect forecasts made by forecasters.  It must be discovered who makes the most accurate weather forecasts.  The morale and health of people all over the United States are at stake.

Task

The Government has hired you to rate the performance of the weather forecasters in your town.  As part of this important work, you will use the internet to collect daily 'high temperature' weather forecasts made by television, newspaper and government forecasters.  You will then analyze this data to discover which forecaster is the best, which is the worst, and which ones overpredict or underpredict the weather. 

The Government will use your results to praise the winners and improve the quality of weather forecasts.  You will, of course, receive honor, admiration and great renown for your work  Good Luck on your mission!

Process

 

This is a three-week project that will be completed together during class.  During the first two weeks you will spend a few minutes each day gathering information from the internet.   If an Internet connection isn't available, you can gather information from the newspaper and from TV.   You will analyze your data and prepare your reports during the third week.

1)   You will start by finding data sources for 3 forecasters you will be evaluating.  These forecasters could be the weather reports provided by local television stations (such as NBC, FOX, ABC and CBS), The Weather Channel, the local newspapers, Weather Underground (National Weather Service), or other potential forecasters.  

2)   On Monday through Friday of each week, record each of the 3 forecaster's high temperature forecast for the following day.  Do this for a two week period. (Here is a table that can be used to record your informaiton.)

Week 1

Monday: ______________________

Forecaster

Tuesday Forecasted High

Actual High

Relative Difference (= forecast – actual)

Absolute Difference (=│forecast - actual│)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday: _____________________

Forecaster

Tuesday Forecasted High

Actual High

Relative Difference (= forecast – actual)

Absolute Difference (=│forecast - actual│)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday: _______________________

Forecaster

Tuesday Forecasted High

Actual High

Relative Difference (= forecast – actual)

Absolute Difference (=│forecast - actual│)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday: ___________________________

Forecaster

Tuesday Forecasted High

Actual High

Relative Difference (= forecast – actual)

Absolute Difference (=│forecast - actual│)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday: ____________________________

Forecaster

Tuesday Forecasted High

Actual High

Relative Difference (= forecast – actual)

Absolute Difference (=│forecast - actual│)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 2

Monday: ______________________

Forecaster

Tuesday Forecasted High

Actual High

Relative Difference (= forecast – actual)

Absolute Difference (=│forecast - actual│)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday: _____________________

Forecaster

Tuesday Forecasted High

Actual High

Relative Difference (= forecast – actual)

Absolute Difference (=│forecast - actual│)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday: _______________________

Forecaster

Tuesday Forecasted High

Actual High

Relative Difference (= forecast – actual)

Absolute Difference (=│forecast - actual│)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday: ___________________________

Forecaster

Tuesday Forecasted High

Actual High

Relative Difference (= forecast – actual)

Absolute Difference (=│forecast - actual│)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday: ____________________________

Forecaster

Tuesday Forecasted High

Actual High

Relative Difference (= forecast – actual)

Absolute Difference (=│forecast - actual│)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3)   At the beginning of the third week, use the Weather Underground (National Weather Service) web site to collect the high temperature that actually occurred for your forecasted dates (this is called verification).  

4)   For each forecaster, you and your group will determine the average relative forecast error.  The average relative forecast error gives you the average error, including whether the forecasts are too high or too low.  (The term 'average' is the same as the term 'mean'.)

 

5)   For each forecaster, you and your group will determine the average absolute forecasting error.  The average absolute forecast error gives you the average error, regardless of whether the forecasts are too high or too low.  (The term 'average' is the same as the term 'mean'.)

6. With your group, put the sources in order from the best to the worst, according to their average relative forecast error. Also list the sources forecast error.

                                               

                            Source                                                         Forecast Error

  1. _____________________________________                                ____
  2. _____________________________________                                ____
  3. _____________________________________                                ____

 Make a bar graph using the sources and their relative forecast error.  Label all parts of the bar graph as well as giving it a title.

7) Individually, you will now write a business letter to the forecaster that had the best forecast error (meaning they were most accurate). You will need to describe the project and tell them how you collected the data and how they came out to have the most accurate forecast. You will also ask them if they would like to come to your classroom to discuss weather with the class. The letter should be in proper business letter format and written with the audience in mind. The students will use the template shown below to write their letter. The teacher will review the following: audience, tone, punctuation and other topics of writing letters. 

Return address of the letter writer:

1600 Main Street

Springfield, Kansas 12345

December 1, 2008

Mr. Name of the recipient & address:

Department of Linguistics

Right State University

1415 University Drive

Felicity, OH 45434

Dear Recipient,

(Body of the letter)

It is best to keep an initial business letter short. Business people are busy and do not have time to read long letters! In a one-page letter, you will usually only need three or four paragraphs, single spaced. Use a double space in between paragraphs.

Sincerely,

Sender Name

Enclosures (2): Descriptions

 

Evaluation

Weather Forecast Showdown

Student Name_____________________________________

Date_________________

Group Members: _________________________________________________________________

Beginning

Developing

Accomplished

Exemplary

Points

Overall Group Performance:

 

How well did your group work together?

 

(25 points possible)

(10 points)

 

Not all members of the group contributed.  Discussion in the group was limited or non-existent.  Work reflects only individual thought, not a consensus and synthesis of research.

(15 points)

 

Most members of the group contributed to its success, though a consensus was hard to reach.  Work reflects more individual thought and low level processing.

(20 points)

 

Each member of the group contributed to its success.  Answers to questions showed information, but less synthesis and analysis.  Answers were different among individuals and supported individual thought.

(25 points)

 

Each member of the group contributed to its success.  Worked well together, asked higher level questions, and gave answers that supported group thinking.

Group Report:

 

Research presented in a clear and accurate form

 

(25 points possible)

(10 points)

 

Information is incorrect and missing.  Organization is loosely connected.  Most sources have no citations.

(15 points)

 

Organization has some missing connections.  Most sources are cited.

(20 points)

 

Information is factual, with no more than a minimal amount of calculation errors.  All sources of information are cited.

(25 points)

 

Information is clearly presented.  All sources of information are cited.

Data sheet:

Graphs:

Individual Letter:

 

Project was presented in a clear, accurate and insightful manner.

 

(50 points possible)

(20 points)

 

Information has some error.  Poor organization.  More than 5 spelling or grammatical errors.

(30 points)

 

Minimal amount of higher level interpretations.  Information is factual, but poorly organized.  No more than 5 spelling or grammatical errors.

(40 points)

 

Interpretation shows some higher level processing.  Information is factual and well organized.  No more than 3 spelling or grammatical errors.

(50 points)

 

Interpretation shows thought, organization, and provides factual information.  Shows high level processing.  No spelling or grammatical errors.

Letter:

TOTAL POINTS:

Teacher comments:

 

Conclusion

Well done investigators!

The Government is very proud of your work.  The information you have discovered will be used to help prevent unreliable weather forecasting.Also, since you wrote a great letter to a local news station, a weather reporter has agreed to come out to your classroom to talk about the weather! *Students will present their graphs and data to the weather reporter when they visit the classroom. Congratulations again on the completion of your important mission!

Credits

Web Sites for TV stationsYou can use the following national web sites to find the web site of your local television stations:NBC: www.nbc.comFOX: www.fox.comABC: www.abc.comCBS: www.cbs.com

You can get forecast information from the cable TV station 'The Weather Channel':

The Weather Channel: www.weather.com

Web sites for newspapersInternet search engine sites often have listings of web sites for local newspapers:yahoo: dir.yahoo.com/News_and_Media/Newspapers/google: directory.google.com/Top/News/Newspapers/Directories/Web sites for Governmental forecastsIn the United States, the branch of government that makes weather forecasts is the National Weather Service.  You can find National Weather Service forecasts at their web site.  The same National Weather Service forecasts are also available at a web site called the Weather Underground.  
National Weather Service: www.weather.govThe Weather Underground: www.wunderground.com

Teacher Page

Differentiation:

All of the students will be able to fill in the log sheet each day. 

ELL students will need help writing the letter. These students will not have to write a full letter. These students will only be required to write the part of the letter where they describe the project. The teacher will provide a word bank, with description, of words to use to help them with that part of the letter. 

Gifted students will be required to write a letter to the forecaster that had the worst forecasting error as well. They will be required to explain the project and tell the forecaster exactly how we found them to have the least accurate results.