Make Your Own Weather Station
- Wednesday, April 25, 2007
It's always been interesting for me to note the differences in weather patterns across the country. From the summertime heat of Arizona to the wintertime cold of North Dakota, from the hurricanes and humidity of the southeast to the mild wetness of the Pacific Northwest . . . what makes the weather so different in each different region?
People have been interested in the weather since at least the days of Noah. And with good reason--it has an impact on pretty much every area of our lives. Even with all our technological advances we can't do anything to change the weather. Only God can control the weather, and although that's frustrating to some people, it's still the reality of life.
Since weather is so important to so many people, it's only natural that people always want to know what the weather is going to be. Weather forecasting appears in many places throughout the Bible and other ancient records. Many families have memories of relatives who could almost unerringly predict the weather. And in this issue's Give it a Try, we'll learn how to make our own weather station to help make our own weather forecasts!
Professional weather forecasters, or meteorologists, use very sophisticated instruments and supercomputers to make their predictions. The instruments we'll be making will not be very precise or accurately calibrated, but they should be enough for you to make some basic forecasts.
The first weather instrument we'll make is a barometer. To do this, you'll need a clear glass or jar, a clear drinking straw, a ruler, and a small plug to put into the straw. (Modeling clay, Silly Putty®, or chewing gum will work for the plug.) You'll also need a couple pieces of tape, some water, and just a bit of food coloring.
Making your barometer is simple. Just fill your glass about half-full of water. Add a drop or two of food coloring and stir it in with the straw. Place the straw into the glass, straight up along one side, but don't quite let it touch the bottom of the glass. Tape the straw in place. Now, act like you're going to slowly take a sip of water through the straw, but stop when the colored water in the straw rises to about halfway between the water level and the top of the glass. Pinch the straw to keep the water from running back out of the straw, then firmly push your plug onto the top of the straw. You should be able to see the colored water through the sides of the straw. The water level in the straw should be an inch or two above the water level in the glass.
Now, use your ruler to measure the height of the colored water in the straw every day. You should notice that the water level goes up and down periodically. This is because of air pressure acting on the water in the glass. On a "high pressure day," which is normally clear, the water level in the straw will be high. On a "low pressure day," the water level will be lower. Low pressure, or "falling barometers," often means a period of bad weather is moving in.
Our next instrument is a hygrometer, which is used to measure the humidity in the air. To make this instrument, you'll need a small piece of stiff, thick paper (card stock works well), a thumbtack, a small finishing nail, some glue (hot glue works best), a dime, a piece of long, straight hair about eight inches long (Mom better handle the scissors!) and a few pieces of cardboard.
Start by cutting out three pieces of cardboard about ten inches long and five inches wide. Glue them together so you end up with one thick piece. This will be the mounting board. Now, take your thick paper and trace an isosceles triangle onto it, about four inches tall and two inches wide at the bottom. Cut out the triangle and use your finishing nail to poke a hole in the center, about half an inch from the bottom end. Position the triangle on the mounting board about one inch from the bottom with the long, pointed end pointing to the right. Push the thumbtack through the hole in the triangle into the mounting board. This will be your pointer. Leave the thumbtack loose so the pointer can rotate freely.
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