FOSS Course Summary

Course Summary – Weather and Water

The FOSS Weather and Water Course focuses on the phenomena of Earth’s atmosphere, weather, and water. The anchor phenomena is observable local weather conditions. The driving question for the course is what makes weather happen? Students will delve into phenomena that may seem unrelated to weather, including a dose of the disciplines of physics and chemistry. A good understanding of meteorology as an earth science isn’t complete without an introduction to concepts that cross into these disciplines.

Understanding weather is more than reading data from a weather center. Students need to grapple with ideas about atoms and molecules, changes of state, and energy transfer before they can launch into the bigger ideas involving air masses, fronts, convection cells and winds, the development of severe weather, and climate change.

Earth’s atmosphere is composed of gases, with nitrogen and oxygen the most abundant. But Earth wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for one keystone gas, water vapor, a relatively small and variable component of the atmosphere. Without water vapor and its liquid and solid forms, both on the surface and in the atmosphere, there would be no weather. There would be neither clouds nor precipitation. If precipitation didn’t occur, we wouldn’t have runoff to create the streams and rivers that erode mountains, deposit deltas, and replenish lakes and the ocean. An atmosphere without water vapor would be an alien and hostile place. The importance of water on Earth is a major element of this course.

For a description of each investigation in Weather and Water and correlations to the Next Generation Science Standards, download the Weather and Water Course Overview PDF.

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