From The Merman to the Weatherman: The Evolution of Weather Prediction

Jennifer Thompson, Science, James Martin Middle School

Final Unit (PDF)  Implementing Common Core Standards (PDF)


This curriculum unit investigates how weather forecasting has changed over
the years. Students will begin by investigating weather myths and folk sayings in order
to analyze whether these myths were rooted in science. Students will participate in
cooperative learning groups while completing I-charts and reflective journaling activities
to master the content presented. An important piece of this unit is the use of primary
sources in the science classroom. Science instruction is often centered on text book like
information text, but primary sources can be just as valuable as tools of learning and
instruction. Students will analyze primary sources from two historical storms in order to
understand the cultural, social, and economic impacts of these storms. Students should
be able to make the connection that modern forecasting techniques were born not only for
the curiosity of predicting the future, but out of necessity for keeping us safe and our
cities secure. To that end, we’ll explore the myriad of ways that early cultures ventured
into meteorological prediction, ranging from observing merman as harbingers of bad
weather to observing changes in animal behavior. Learning about modern forecasting
technologies will come next in this unit with students making the connection that science
has come a long way in the past several hundred years. The unit wraps up with a project
where students will demonstrate that they understand how scientists have developed the
field of meteorological forecasting over the years.