OpenSciEd: 6.3 Weather, Climate & Water Cycling 1-Class Unit Kit


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Grades 6–8. In Unit 6.3 Weather, Climate & Water Cycling, Carolina Certified Version*, students work to answer the Unit Driving Question: "Why does a lot of hail, rain, or snow fall at some times and not others?"

This unit on weather, climate, and water cycling is broken into four separate lesson sets. In the first two lesson sets, students explain small-scale storms. In the third and fourth lesson sets, students explain mesoscale weather systems and climate-level patterns of precipitation. Each of these two parts of the unit is grounded in a different anchoring phenomenon.

The unit starts out with anchoring students in the exploration of a series of videos of hailstorms, from different locations across the country and at different times of the year. The videos show that pieces of ice of different sizes (some very large) are falling out of the sky, sometimes accompanied by rain and wind gusts, all on days when the temperature of the air outside remained above freezing for the entire day. These cases spark questions and ideas for investigations, such as investigating how ice can be falling from the sky on a warm day, how clouds form, why some clouds produce storms with large amounts of precipitation and others don't, and how all that water gets into the air in the first place.

In this first half of the unit, students investigate weather data specific to these events and the temperature profile of the atmosphere above Earth's surface. They conduct investigations into how sunlight affects the temperature of different surfaces and the air above them, and how this contributes to cloud formation and growth. They work with manipulatives, simulations, and labs to figure out how molecules in different phases change states under different conditions and they conduct investigations into why air moves the way it does as it is heated and cooled.

The second half of the unit is anchored in the exploration of a weather report of a winter storm that affected large portions of the midwestern United States. The maps, transcripts, and video that students analyze show them that the storm was forecasted to produce large amounts of snow and ice accumulation in large portions of the northeastern part of the country within the next day. This case sparks questions and ideas for investigations around trying to figure out what could be causing such a large-scale storm and why it would end up affecting a different part of the country a day later. In the second half of the unit, students also investigate changes in weather conditions over the entire country over multiple days, as well as forecasts of three other storms that are forecasted to affect other parts of the country. They explore how the interactions of air masses, prevailing winds, proximity to the ocean, ocean currents, and surface elevation profiles work together to influence how much precipitation different regions receive.

At the end of the second half of the unit, students apply their understandings to develop an explanation for why South America has a tropical rainforest in one part of the continent and a temperate rainforest in another part of the continent, despite having some of the driest places on Earth relatively close by both.

This 1-Class Unit Kit includes basic teacher access to instructional materials on, plus the materials needed to teach 1 class of 32 students per day.

Building Toward NGSS Performance Expectations

  • MS-PS1-4: Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed.
  • MS-ESS2-4: Develop a model to describe the cycling of water through Earth's systems driven by energy from the sun and the force of gravity.
  • MS-ESS2-5: Collect data to provide evidence for how the motions and complex interactions of air masses result in changes in weather conditions.
  • MS-ESS2-6: Develop and use a model to describe how unequal heating and rotation of Earth cause patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation that determine regional climates.

Science and Engineering Practices

  • Developing and Using Models
  • Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Focal Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • ESS2.C
  • ESS2.D
  • PS1.A
  • PS3.A
  • PS4.B

Focal Crosscutting Concepts

  • Patterns
  • Cause and Effect
  • Systems and System Models
  • Matter and Energy

*All enhancements to materials and instruction for this Carolina Certified Version of the unit are approved by OpenSciEd to preserve the integrity of the storyline and the instructional model.

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Shipping Information or Purchase Restrictions
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What’s Included:
  •  Unit Technology Pack (basic digital access to teacher's guide and all instructional resources for the teacher)
  •  Balls, Ping-Pong®
  •  Binder Clips, Large
  •  Box Cutter
  •  Clamp Lamps
  •  Containers, Plastic, 24 oz
  •  Cups, Plastic
  •  Gel Ice Packs, Reusable
  •  Hacksaw
  •  Heating Pad
  •  Humidity Probes
  •  Jar, Widemouthed Glass (16 oz or more)
  •  Light Bulbs
  •  Magnifying Glasses
  •  Marbles, Magnetic
  •  Paper Clips
  •  Rocks
  •  Sheet Protectors, Plastic
  •  Spoons, Plastic
  •  Tanks, Plastic, 1-1/2 gal
  •  Bags, Plastic, Resealable
  •  Balloons
  •  Bubble Soap, Concentrated
  •  Food Coloring, Blue
  •  Food Coloring, Red
  •  Note Pad, Self-Adhesive, Large
  •  Note Pads, Self-Adhesive, Medium
  •  Paper, Waxed
  •  Pipets, 3 mL
  •  Rubber Bands
  •  Sand
  •  Sticker Dots
  •  Straws, Flexible
  •  Tape, Packing
  •  Tape, Transparent
  •  Twine
  •  Velcro® Hook Strip
  •  Velcro® Loop Strip
Needed But Not Included:
Return Policy:

If for any reason you are not satisfied with this item, it is eligible for a return, exchange, refund, or credit up to 180 days from date of purchase. Restrictions may apply. Returns & Exchanges Policy.