An Internet based lesson

A lesson built around a single Internet Site

Subject: Math and Earth Science
Grade level(s): Middle school
Lesson Title: When you are hot, you're hot!
Internet Site Title: Current Weather Conditions - Memphis, Memphis International Airport, TN, United States
Internet Site URL: http://weather.noaa.gov/weather/current/KMEM.html
Author: Bill Byles

Site Description: This site gives current weather conditions and a 24 hour summary of temperature, dew point, pressure, wind and weather. Time at this site is given as Eastern Standard Time, so one hour must be deducted from each of the times given. For example, change 10:00 AM to 9:00 AM. You will be using data from the 24 hour summary which is located in the bottom half of the web page. This site allows you to get weather data for many US cities. A follow up lesson will use data from another city, but you will not follow any other links during this lesson.


Site Purpose: You are going to this page to get data to put into a spreadsheet. You will only collect data for time and temperature. The most simple way to do this is to write the numbers down on paper and later enter them into a spreadsheet.


Lesson Introduction: Unless an air mass has moved into the area, there should be some pattern to temperatures during a twenty-four hour day. However, unless you have paid careful attention to the weather, your hunch about what that pattern is may be incorrect.


 Lesson Description: Before you begin this activity, set up a journal page and make your guess about the following: (1) What hour of day is the hottest? (2) What time of the day is the coldest? After making your guess, visit the weather data site and record the temperature for each of the last 24 hours. Write the numbers down in your journal before entering them into the spreadsheet. If you want to copy the data and paste into Excel, you will encounter several difficulties. To see how to deal with these problems, download a sample spreadsheet. You may be able to look at the numbers you wrote in your journal and see a pattern. But, if you put your data into Excel and create a column chart, the pattern will be much easier to find.

Instructions for using Excel to produce your chart of temperature data

  • Enter the data into a spreadsheet
  • Put the times into column 1
  • Enter the temperatures in column 2, use numbers only, do not try to enter a degree sign or Fahrenheit.
  • Highlight the times and temperatures only. Do not use entire columns or entire rows, just the data you entered.
  • Select the Chart Wizard button
  • A column chart is the default choice, so click on the Next button at the bottom of the window.
  • At step 2 there is nothing to change, so click on the Next button at the bottom of the window.
  • In the chart title section of step 3 enter "24 hours of temperature data."
  • Label the X and Y axes as time and temperature, then select the Next button at the bottom of the window.
  • On step 4, click in the top circle to place the chart as a new sheet.
  • Select the Finish button at the bottom of the window.

Look carefully at your chart. Go back to your journal page and record the time of the highest temperature and the time of the lowest temperature. Compare those numbers to your guesses. On your journal page suggest possible reasons why the hottest and coldest times of the day happen when they do.


Final Product or Task: Print your "24 hours of temperature data" chart. Report the results of your inquiry on a one page MS Word document which you will turn in with your Excel chart. Your report must include:

  1. your original guesses about the hottest and coldest time,
  2. the actual hottest and coldest times,
  3. your speculation as to why hottest and coldest times happen when they do.


Conclusion: The first days of summer and winter are not the coldest days of those seasons for reasons similar to why noon and midnight are not the hottest and coldest times of the day. We will investigate this further in lessons that follow.


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