Unit Weather and Atmosphere

Landscape photo of stormy skies and a partial rainbow over a wide valley and mountain backdrop.
Engineers are involved in many aspects of weather forecasting and weather-appropriate design.
Copyright © 2010 Denise W. Carlson. Used with permission.


In this unit, students learn the basics about weather and the atmosphere. They investigate materials engineering as it applies to weather and the choices available to us for clothing to counteract the effects of weather. Students have the opportunity to design and analyze combinations of materials for use in specific weather conditions. In the next lesson, students also are introduced to air masses and weather forecasting instrumentation and how engineers work to improve these instruments for atmospheric measurements on Earth and in space. Then, students learn the distinguishing features of the four main types of weather fronts that accompany high and low pressure air masses and how those fronts are depicted on a weather map. During this specific lesson, students learn different ways that engineers help with storm prediction, analysis and protection. In the final lesson, students consider how weather forecasting plays an important part in their daily lives by learning about the history of weather forecasting and how improvements in weather technology have saved lives by providing advance warning of natural disasters.
This engineering curriculum aligns to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Engineering Connection

Engineers are involved in many aspects of weather forecasting and weather-appropriate design. They analyze information about weather when designing instruments such as barometers, thermometers and anemometers—technologies that are essential for accurate weather predictions so that we can make informed decisions about how we interact with our world. Also, computer science engineers develop software to integrate these complex weather information technologies for meteorologists to use to make such predictions and inform the public. Engineers develop websites (and software) to present predicted and historical weather information in the most informative and pleasing way for people to understand. Civil engineers utilize weather data when designing bridges, houses and other structures, to ensure that those designs are appropriate for the climate of their locations. Environmental engineers analyze weather measurements to determine the placement and effectiveness of renewable energy technologies, such as wind farms and solar arrays. Engineers also serve an important role in designing products that enable people to more comfortably adjust to the weather (for example, waterproof jackets, heated driveways and sunscreen, and many other weather-resistant goods).

Educational Standards

Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.

All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standards Network (ASN), a project of D2L (www.achievementstandards.org).

In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics; within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.

See individual lessons and activities for standards alignment.


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Unit Schedule

More Curriculum Like This

Middle School Lesson
Weather Basics

Students are introduced to the basics of the Earth's weather. Concepts include fundamental causes of common weather phenomena such as temperature changes, wind, clouds, rain and snow. The different factors that affect the weather and the instruments that measure weather data are also addressed.

Middle School Unit

Through a five-lesson series that includes numerous hands-on activities, students are introduced to the importance and pervasiveness of bridges for connecting people to resources, places and other people, with references to many historical and current-day examples.

Middle School Lesson
Air Under Pressure

Students are introduced to air masses, with an emphasis on the differences between and characteristics of high- versus low-pressure air systems. Students explore actual data by comparing maps of high- and low-pressure air masses to radar data showing where weather is occurring

Middle School Lesson
Stormy Skies

Students learn that wind and storms can form at the boundaries of interacting high and low pressure air masses. They learn the distinguishing features of the four main types of weather fronts (warm fronts, cold fronts, stationary fronts and occluded fronts) and how these fronts are depicted on a sur...


© 2009 by Regents of the University of Colorado


See individual lessons and activities.

Supporting Program

Integrated Teaching and Learning Program, College of Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder


The contents of this digital library curriculum were developed under grants from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), U.S. Department of Education, and the National Science Foundation (GK-12 grant no. 0338326). However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the Department of Education or National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Last modified: August 23, 2017

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