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Globe Connections

From Observations to Investigations

Scientific investigation is a vital part of the GLOBE Program. In the first Learning Sequence of GLOBE Weather, students have had the opportunity to collect data using GLOBE Protocols, data sheets, and mobile apps. This GLOBE Connection is an opportunity for students to take the next step and use their observations of clouds, air temperature, and surface temperature from Learning Sequence 1 to develop research questions that can form the basis of an investigation.

Scientific Investigation FAQs

  • How to decide what topic to investigate?
    • Let the students choose! After making observations and recorded data about clouds, air temperature, surface temperature, and precipitation, students should be able to raise some questions or identify topics that are of interest to them.
  • What is a research question?
    • A research question is a question that requires a systematic investigation to answer. Research questions may lead to the development of new ideas. A good research project requires creative and systematic planning and investigation to develop new ideas and information.
  • What should be the focus of the research questions?
    • In Earth system science, questions should focus on the relationships among components in nature. Examples include:
      • How does vegetation affect surface temperature? (e.g., compare temperature of areas with and without vegetation)
      • How does precipitation change through the year? (e.g., comparisons each month)
      • What were the consequences of an unusual weather event? (e.g., 2013 rain and floods in Colorado, the 1938 hurricane in New England that intensified over land)
  • What are some tips for a successful research project?
    • Research must clearly consider all of the important and essential variables.
    • Scientific methods are used to answer questions.
    • Research should be appropriate to student skill level and time constraints.

Directions for Students

  1. Review the details of your study site and any models you developed. Do you have additional questions about your observations? Are there topics that you would like to study further?
  2. Discuss temperature and cloud-related questions with your group.
  3. Work together to omit questions that are ambiguous or might be too difficult to answer.
  4. Ask teachers or scientists to help you make questions more precise and easier to answer.
  5. Find a GLOBE Collaborator:
  6. Brainstorm ways to find answers to the questions. Group or sort your questions based on the methods that will be needed to find answers.
  7. Work with your group to choose 1-2 questions to investigate.
  8. If needed, modify your questions or ask for suggestions.
  9. Define research methods for your questions. Some examples of methods you could use:
    • Search for answers in textbooks or on the Internet.
    • Ask experts or other people who may know answers.
    • Go out to the field and take measurements of the variables.
    • Develop plans by considering the important variables related to your questions.
    • Find existing data, collect measurements, analyze data, discuss results, and summarize the results and conclusions in order to answer the questions.
    • Implement the research methods for your questions.
    • Submit your completed projects to the GLOBE Website:

The suggestions in this GLOBE Connection are taken from Earth System Science Student Book Grades 7-9 (Aksorn Smart, 2014) edited by Dr. Dixon Butler.


Butler, D.M., [Editor] (2014) Earth System Science Student Book Grade 7-9 The Institute for the Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology (IPST).