COSMIC satellites This Teaching Box combines activities that build middle school student understanding of how satellites help make weather forecasts more accurate and how the COSMIC satellites collect data about the atmosphere by measuring bending radio waves.

Teaching Boxes are collections of classroom-ready and standards-aligned activities, content, and multimedia that build student understanding of science, technology, engineering, and math.

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UCAR Center for Science Education presents the Satellites and Weather Teaching Box! We have collected high quality resources from our program and from other science education programs, sequenced them to help build student understanding, and aligned the collection with Next Generation Science Standards. Resources have been reviewed by our team of educators.

  • Topic: Satellites and Weather
  • Level: Middle school
  • How to use this resource: Select resources from the following two tabs that are best suited for your students to meet the learning goals. Resources are sequenced to build student understanding. Each tab includes a 5E learning sequence that covers as aspect of the topic.

How COSMIC Satellites See the Atmosphere  

Goal: Students will learn that electromagnetic radiation, including light and radio waves, bends when it passes through substances with different densities. The amount of bending of radio waves beamed from one satellite to another allows scientists to measure traits of the atmosphere, such as temperature, pressure, and humidity, at different heights.

Activity:  This part of the Teaching Box will help your students understand how the bending of light and other types of EM radiation can tell us about the traits of the materials the EM waves passed through via a combination of a physical demonstration, use of computer-based simulations, and analysis of actual satellite data. 

Next Generation Science Standards:

  • NGSS Science and Engineering Practices: Developing and Using Models; Analyzing and Interpreting Data; Constructing Evidence
  • NGSS Disciplinary Core Idea: MS- PS4.B: Electromagnetic Radiation
  • NGSS Crosscutting Concepts: Cause and Effect, Patterns

How Satellites Help Improve Weather Forecasting  

Goal: Students will learn that data about the atmosphere from satellites helps improve weather monitoring and forecasting.

Activity:  This part of the Teaching Box will help your students understand how satellites help us monitor and forecast weather through a combination of hands on activities, and analysis of real satellite data.

Next Generation Science Standards:

  • NGSS Science and Engineering Practices: Analyzing and Interpreting Data; Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
  • NGSS Disciplinary Core Idea: MS- ESS2.D Weather and Climate
  • NGSS Crosscutting Concepts: Cause and Effect, Stability and Change