April Showers Bring... Good Crops?
This spring, students who participated in our Education Outreach program learned about different weather patterns and how each type of weather affects agriculture. While many students may be familiar with common weather such as rain or snow, they may not be aware of how weather can seriously affect farmers’ crop growth! For my internship project, I created a lesson plan that allows students to learn about the true importance of meteorology and weather through a series of instructional videos, a few great books, and fun weather-related activities. By teaching students about something as seemingly minor as weather, it could be the thing that encourages a student to study environmental science or conservation.
Lower elementary students will learn about simple weather patterns such as rain, sun, wind, and storms. Students learned how all of these climatic conditions are extremely useful in growing strong, healthy crops. However, they also were taught that excessive amounts of these patterns can cause severe damage, hurting both crop production and farmers! At the end of the lesson, students are given a “Weather Watcher Journal”. They learn what it is like to be a meteorologist. Students observed the weather and brainstormed how it would affect local farmers based on the information discussed earlier in their lesson.
Third graders are learning about weather and farming in a more in-depth manner. Like the preschool and kindergarteners, these students are discussing weather patterns and how it can affect crop production. However, third graders are also learning about different types of climate, how climate differs from weather, and how both weather and climate can affect farms in different ways. Students are learning about six different types of climate and the common crops that grow fruitfully in these conditions. These students are learning about weather patterns such as frost, hail, drought, and early v. late snowfall. Another weather journal is included for this kit activity, but students are going to record the temperatures, rain percentages, wind rates, etc. as well as how weather patterns can greatly affect a farmer’s production.
These lessons were created for my intern project as a way to advocate to students the importance of agriculture, but also to teach them about the struggles farmers can go through for things that remain out of their control. Something as minor as a thick, overnight frost can cause extreme crop harm or even the end of a fruit and vegetable season. The weather is an important factor in growing tasty, profitable crops, but it can also mean great impairment to a farmer’s business. After experiencing the derecho this past summer, many farms were greatly damaged and it’s important more people understand the significance this can cause for farmers and locals who won’t receive the same fresh products. I wanted students to learn about common weather types, but I also wanted them to understand the extreme importance of weather. I also wanted the older students to be able to differentiate climate and weather in order to understand why different crops are grown in different places (for example: Iowa commonly grows corn and Florida grows oranges). By choosing weather as the topic for my internship project, I’m hoping that, with learning about weather patterns and predictions, there’s a great chance that someday these students will grow up to improve farming technology and weather forecasting.