The weather plays a central role in our lives and has a major impact on the climate conditions we face every day. Rain or shine - can you measure the weather?
Wherever you go and whatever you do, the weather is always with you. It affects wildlife in lots of ways and changes from season to season.
But sometimes the weather is so obvious we don’t really pay attention to it. Watching clouds, capturing rain, feeling the warmth of the sun and noticing which way the wind blows is a science you know more about than you think! It's called meteorology. Why not enter this fascinating world by completing the activities below?
You'll learn how to set up your own weather station. What changes will you observe? Can you predict the weather near where you live?
Are you doing this activity as part of your Wild Challenge? Find out how you are progressing – are you getting closer to gold? Good luck!
Did you know: the highest temperature ever recorded in the UK was a scorching 38.7 degrees Celsius, and the lowest a chilly -27.2 degrees Celsius?
What you will need
Discovering the weather can be as simple as getting outside and using your senses to experience it! However, if you'd like to investigate the weather more thoroughly, you'll require:
- A diary or notebook and a pencil to keep track of your weather experiments
- A weather testing kit (see below)
- A clipboard for keeping track of the weather in the field (optional)
- A warm and waterproof coat
- If you've set up weather experiments like the windsock or rain gauge below, check them to see what's changed and make a note of it.
- Use your senses to experience the effects of the weather. Listen to the sounds of the weather such as rain pattering and wind rustling leaves. Feel the effect of warm sunshine or cooling wind. Can you detect anything else? Maybe you can notice a different smell after rainfall or find puddles or muddy, squelchy soil. Watch the clouds – are there any shapes that look like objects or animals? There are lots of different types of clouds and they can mean different things for the weather.
- Keep a note of everything you notice or experience in a weather diary. Keeping track of the weather can be really interesting, especially when you combine it with your knowledge of wildlife and how that wildlife interacts with the weather each day.
- Go for a walk in a couple of different habitats, like woodland or by a river. Can you detect how the weather has affected each habitat? In the woods you might find many more leaves on the ground or broken branches if there's been a lot of wind. You might also notice that rivers or streams are higher or lower due to how much rain there has been.
- Don't forget to tell us when you have completed the activity! When you mark the activity as complete, you will be asked to upload a photo, drawing or your weather diary to show us what you've learnt about the weather!
Completing the activity
Use the 'Mark as complete' button at the top of this page to tell us you've completed your activity. You'll need to show us what you did by uploading a photo of what you saw or measured, or your family on the lookout for wild weather! Alternatively, draw or paint what you saw or upload a piece of writing - like a weather diary - describing your experience.
Make your own weather station
Meteorologists (weather scientists) measure the speed and direction of wind using instruments called anemometers. A simpler instrument is a windsock. Discover how to make one, and also how to measure rain with a simple gauge, below.
To make a windsock, you will need
- A piece of A4 paper
- A carrier bag cut into 2cm-wide strips
- Pipe cleaner or string
- Glue, sticky tape or a stapler
- Paint or colouring pens/pencils
How to make it
- Decorate your A4 paper however you like.
- Roll your paper into a long tube and secure it with glue, sticky tape or a stapler.
- Attach plastic bag strips to one end.
- Add a loop of string or pipe cleaner to one end so you can hang it.
- Hang your windsock from a tree or a stick dug into the ground. If you have a compass you can work out the direction the wind is blowing from (it’s the opposite direction from the way the windsock is pointing). Keep a daily note in your weather diary.
To make a rain gauge, you will need:
- A glass jar
- A ruler
How to make it
- Making a rain gauge is simple. Leave a glass jar outside in an open area before it starts raining.
- When it stops, use a ruler to measure how many centimetres of rain are inside.
- Take measurements over different periods - say 24 hours, a week or even 30 days!
Create fog in a jar
What is fog? Where does it come from? Well, let's find out by making some!
You will need
- A glass jar - you don't need the lid!
- Tea strainer or small sieve
- Hot water
- Ice cubes
- Fill the jar with hot water, leave it for a minute, then drain almost all of it out.
- Place some ice cubes in the sieve or strainer.
- Pop the sieve or strainer on top of the jar and see what happens!
- Did you know? Fog is a cloud at ground level.
Make your own lightning storm
If you think making your own lightning storm sounds a bit dangerous, you're right... Only joking! Well, kind of. Keep a grown-up close by and be careful when you're making lightning like a superhero.
You will need
- Rubber glove
- Plastic fork
- Chopping board (wood or plastic)
- Rubber balloon
- Your hair, or someone else's, or the dog's
- Fold some foil around the prongs of the fork and make it flat like a spatula.
- Blow up a balloon and put a rubber glove on.
- Pick up the balloon in your gloved hand and rub it against your hair for about a minute.
- Put the balloon on your chopping board, then pick up the fork with your gloved hand.
- Touch the foil end of the fork on the balloon and watch lightning fly!
- Did you know? Thunder and lightning happens when ice particles bump against each other in a cloud. The bumps create an electrical charge that heats up and produces static electricity!