Worthington Hooker School is a kindergarten through eighth grade New Haven Public School. Currently the fifth through eighth grades are located at a temporary site while a permanent location is secured for the third through eighth grades. Following extensive renovations during the 2005-2006 school year, Kindergarten through second grade will be relocated to the original, historic building at the intersection of Livingston and Canner Streets.
Worthington Hooker School is a neighborhood school for the East Rock community. The population of this area is composed of Yale faculty, graduate students, and other New Haven residents. The student population is largely drawn from the local community; when there are available slots, students from other neighborhoods in New Haven are allowed to enroll. For this reason, Worthington Hooker is ethnically, racially, and socioeconomically diverse.
Worthington Hooker School actively integrates arts into the school day. It is a HOT (Higher Order Thinking) School, which is funded through the Connecticut Commission for the Arts and encourages inclusion of the performing and visual arts in core classes of English, math, social studies and science.
The seventh and eighth grade science programs at Worthington Hooker School address the scientific disciplines of biology (reproduction, heredity, genetics, ecology, and evolution), earth science (rock cycle, erosion, earthquakes, plate tectonics, and fossilization), and space science (big bang theory, solar system dynamics, and asteroid impacts).
A prime motivation to write this curriculum unit on weather is to include more physical science and meteorology in the middle school science curriculum. Reviewing the outlined curriculum shows a deficiency in these areas.
In January 2005 The State of Connecticut released revised
. New Haven Public Schools is planning to prepare students for the next generation of CMTs (Connecticut Mastery Test)1.
This curriculum unit will explore several science content standards. The transformations of energy that drive weather will be explored. The sun is the ultimate source of this energy, but the dynamic interplay of weather is a result of how solar energy is moved around the earth by water. The unit will also explore the unequal distribution of energy on our planet, the nature of energy, temperature, pressure, the role water plays in transferring energy, and finally how proximity to large bodies of water impact meteorological phenomena.
Secondary students do not explicitly think about energy flow in the Earth's systems. This unit will help them to make the connection between solar energy and regularly observed meteorological phenomena. Energy to a middle school student may be a high sugar (and calorie) "Power Bar" candy bar, a high caffeine drink such as "Red Bull", or some form of chemical energy, such as oil. A middle school student may also say energy is the same as enthusiasm. There is much misunderstanding among secondary school students around the concept of energy.
Middle school students are generally familiar with the current weather forecast and can describe present meteorological conditions. Students typically cannot identify nor explain the mechanisms, which influence our weather.
Given sufficient motivation, students ask, "What causes weather?" There are many interesting phenomena to see in our daily skies and these are perfect for building enthusiasm for this unit.
Student questions may include:
"Why is my breath sometimes visible?"
"Why do thunderstorms form?"
"How can it be nice today, but rainy (or snowy?) Tomorrow?"
"What causes the wind to blow?"
"How do I explain the dew (or frost) in the morning?"
This unit is to be integrated into a child's daily life. The principles we explore here are universal phenomena which students will be able to explore in and out of science class. Students can pose new questions, explore, and discover more about the world in which they live.
The Greek Philosopher Aristotle coined the term "Meteorology" around 340 B.C. in a text called
included ideas on astronomy, geography, and chemistry. The origin of the term is the Greek
which means "high in the air". Despite his erroneous explanations (experiment-based science did not appear for another 2,000 years), these ideas stood undisputed2.
Subsequent technological and cultural changes permitted formal study of the physical world. In the late 1500's the thermometer was invented, followed by the barometer (a device for measuring air pressure) in 1643. In the late 1700's the hygrometer (a tool to measure water vapor) was invented, and the telegraph's invention in 1843 allowed observations to be sent across vast distances. Shortly thereafter, in 1869, isobars (lines of equal atmospheric pressure) appeared on weather maps. In the 1920's the Norwegians discovered air masses with different pressures, and therefore the existence of weather fronts. By the 1940's the use of weather balloons allowed us to take temperature, humidity, and pressure measurements and allowed for three-dimensional modeling of the atmosphere. Finally, in 1960, the first weather satellite
The unit also looks at how weather is affected by bodies of water and water vapor in the atmosphere. Heat transport, heat capacity, and the presence of the usually invisible air and water vapor are challenging concepts for middle school students!
Wind is caused by forces, which result from air masses moving from higher to lower pressure4. Winds are also caused by the uneven heating of Earth's surface, the Coriolis effect, centripetal forces (seen as isobars around high air pressure regions), and friction5.
Because of Earth's rotation from West to East, winds are sent to the right (aerial view) in the Northern Hemisphere. In the case of high pressure systems, winds move clockwise and outward, away from the pressure center. In low pressure systems, they move counterclockwise and into the lower pressure region (from higher to lower pressure is the rule).
Additionally, the unit will explore the effect adding heat to objects has on their molecular motion. This is a very important idea, which not only helps to understand weather, but why global warming will cause sea level rise. Above 4 Celsius, water volume increases with increasing temperature.
Average temperatures are affected by latitude, location of land and water, ocean currents (such as the Gulf Stream) and elevation6.
The highest profile program for the New Haven Public School's Science Department is the Science Fair. The Science Fair was begun in 1993, and was awarded the "Presidential Award in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring" in 20017. It is held in March in Yale Commons, and hosts projects from most schools, grades K-12. The students are charged with designing an experiment, which is hypothesis driven and from which results can be deduced. This curriculum unit addresses many common physical phenomena, which are excellent springboard activities to engage student interest. From some of these activities students can develop more sophisticated science fair projects. Examples may include:
- Electrical explorations with photovoltaic solar cells
- Heat transfer experiments
- Field-based temperature readings of various locations, done over an extended time period
- Barometer or anemometer construction, calibration, and comparison with professional barometer or anemometer readings