Life Lab

Life Lab cultivates children's love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education.

Incorporating climate science into a classroom or garden is a fun and enriching way to heighten students’ awareness of the natural world around them. Weather stations are compact and versatile and are an excellent tool for teaching children about weather patterns and data collection. Because of their design, they are easy to install anywhere on a school’s campus, and are an especially great addition to a school garden. To assemble your own weather station, and incorporate climate science into your curriculum, check out the resources below

The weather station described below is the opposite of the fully digital stations widely available. Our station relies on reading gauges and interpreting the surrounding environment to log the weather. The data sheet we designed is meant to be easy to use for elementary grades and up.

Assembling the Weather Station

For this project, we used recycled fence board for our cardinal direction signs and a repurposed 4×4 post to mount the materials, but any quality of wood will do. Consider mounting the post in post hole cement so the buried end of the post will last longer.

Materials

  • 4 boards measuring approximately 3″ x 15″ x 0.5″ to mark the cardinal directions
  • Weather-resistant outdoor paint (we recommend a glossy white)
  • 1 pint of dark-colored, weather-resistant paint (we used black)
  • 1 4×4 post measuring approximately 8-10 feet in height
  • 1 bag of quick concrete to set the post in ground see video on how to easily set a post
  • 1 6-foot piece of ½” PVC pipe to hold the wind sock
  • 1 10 x 13 in. outdoor brochure display case to hold weather recording clipboard
  • 1 minimum/maximum thermometer (if working with children 2nd grade and younger you may consider just using a normal outdoor thermometer since they are easier to read and understand than the min/max thermometers)
  • 1 weather-resistant windsock
  • 1 rain gauge or one like this (make sure you get one you can easily dump the rain out out once filled)
  • 2 or 2.5 inch Deck Screws to Assemble
  • Clipboard to hold Weather Data Recording Log and Cloud Key
  • Pencil attached to clipboard (use pencil rather than pen since inks smears when wet and pencil does not)

Recommended Tools

  • Power drill
  • Drill bit to pre-drill screw holes
  • Posthole digger
  • Digging Bar or Rock Bar (is your ground is hard)
  • Shovel
  • Level
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Sandpaper
  • Compass
  • Small step ladder

Directions

If necessary, sand the 4 boards in preparation for painting. Completely cover both sides of the boards with the white outdoor paint–it is recommended that you apply multiple coats of paint and that you allow the boards to dry in between coats. When the boards have completely dried after the last coat of paint’s application, use the dark-colored, weather-resistant paint to write in large, bold letters the cardinal directions (north, south, east, and west) on both sides of the boards leaving at least 5 inches of blank space that will be drilled through to attach to post.

Using a posthole digger or shovel, dig a hole approximately 2 feet deep and 8 inches wide to set the post in. If you have access to a mini-excavator, this will make the process of digging the holes much easier and a lot quicker. Using an auger attachment, you can drill holes for the posts in no time. There is more information on augers and other mini excavator attachments on the Rut Manufacturing website. Center the post in the hole and pour dry concrete mix around the post, filling the hole about halfway. If using a post with 4 sides like a 4×4, position the post so that cardinal direction signs will point in the right direction. We also used some post supports but you can order online if you don’t have any already. Tamp down the concrete mix with back shovel handle. Add water on top of the concrete that is in the hole. Once the first layer of concrete has been moistened, add the remainder of the dry concrete until the hole is filled, ensuring the post is still centered. Tamp down the dry concrete mix but make sure the concrete is at or above the level of the surrounding soil. Avoiding soil contact with your post will decrease the rate of post rot. Moisten the dry concrete mix. Add water and mix the concrete directly in the hole again. Using a level, ensure the post is straight and centered in the concrete. You can allow the concrete to set overnight, or you can continue assembling the rest of the weather station as the concrete dries, being sure to check one more time that the pole is straight and centered with a level before leaving the post to finish setting. Since the weather station is going to be subject to some adverse weather conditions like rain and snow, it might be best to look into the benefits of concrete waterproofing. This is completely optional though. If you live in an area that doesn’t suffer from lots of rain, this may not be necessary for you.

Drill a hole in the top of the PVC pipe with something like a cordless drill and attach the windsock to the top of the ½” PVC pipe. Screw the PVC pipe to the top of the post. Pre drill holes in the PVC pipe and screw in screw half way to make it easier to attach PVC pipe to post. With a carpenter’s square, a level, and a compass, mount the cardinal direction signs a few inches from the top of the post. Below the cardinal direction signs, mount the minimum/maximum thermometer (place the thermometer on the north side of the post out of direct sunlight), the rain gauge, and the brochure display case at the proper height for the student demographic you will be working with. Finally, if the concrete is still wet, check that the post is straight and centered with a level before finishing.

Weather Station Resources

Weather Data Recording Log

Mount this Cloud Type Key on the back of recording log clipboard

You may consider creating a weather box to install your thermometer or additional weather recording instruments.
Much more information on school weather stations can be found at www.weatherforschools.me.uk

Older students and classes may be interested in the GLOBE worldwide science and education program.

Learn how to use the weather station described above in this video:

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