NRC Standards and Benchmarks: Weather Modules
The ETE weather modules ("Weather or Not?" and "Severe Weather: Hurricanes!") support the following science standards and benchmarks:

NRC Science Education Standards (Science Education Standards Online)
As a result of activities, students should develop understanding and abilities aligned with the following concepts and processes.

Content Standards: Unifying Concepts and Processes (pp. 115-119)
Fundamental concepts that underlie Systems, Order, and Organization include:

  • A system is an organized group of related objects or components that form a whole.
  • Systems have boundaries, components, resources flow (input and output), and feedback.
  • The idea of simple systems encompasses subsystems as well as identifying the structure and function of systems, feedback and equilibrium, and the distinction between open and closed systems.
  • An understanding of regularities in systems, and by extension, the universe; they then can develop understanding of basic laws, theories, and models that explain the world.
  • The behavior of units of matter, objects, organisms, or events in the universe-can be described statistically.
  • Probability is the relative certainty (or uncertainty) that individuals can assign to selected events happening (or not happening) in a specified space or time.

Fundamental concepts that underlie Evidence, Models, & Explanation include:

  • Evidence consists of observations and data on which to base scientific explanations.
  • Using evidence to understand interactions allows individuals to predict changes in natural and designed systems.
  • Models are tentative schemes or structures that correspond to real objects, events, or classes of events, and that have explanatory power.
  • Models help scientists and engineers understand how things work.

Fundamental concepts that underlie Constancy, Change, & Measurement include:

  • Interactions within and among systems result in change.
  • Changes vary in rate, scale, and pattern, including trends and cycles.
  • Changes in systems can be quantified.
  • Mathematics is essential for accurately measuring change.
  • Different systems of measurement are used for different purposes.
  • An important part of measurement is knowing when to use which system.
  • Scale includes understanding that different characteristics, properties, or relationships within a system might change as its dimensions are increased or decreased.
  • Rate involves comparing one measured quantity with another measured quantity.

Content Standard A: Science As Inquiry (pp. 173-176)
Fundamental concepts that underlie Abilities Necessary to Do Scientific Inquiry include:

  • Design and conduct scientific investigations.
  • Use technology and mathematics to improve investigations and communications.
  • Formulate and revise scientific explanations and models using logic and evidence.
  • Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and models.
  • Communicate and defend a scientific argument.

Fundamental concepts that underlie Understandings About Scientific Inquiry include:

  • Scientists rely on technology to enhance the gathering and manipulation of data.
  • New techniques and tools provide new evidence to guide inquiry and new methods to gather data, thereby contributing to the advance of science.
  • The accuracy and precision of the data, and therefore the quality of the exploration, depends on the technology used.
  • Mathematics is essential in scientific inquiry. Mathematical tools and models guide and improve the posing of questions, gathering data, constructing explanations and communicating results.

Content Standard B: Physical Science (pp. 176-181)
Fundamental concepts that underlie Motions & Force include:

  • Objects change their motion only when a net force is applied.
  • The electric force is a universal force that exists between any two charged objects.
  • Opposite charges attract while like charges repel.
  • Electricity and magnetism are two aspects of a single electromagnetic force.

Fundamental concepts that underlie Conservation of Energy & the Increase in Disorder include:

  • All energy can be considered to be either kinetic energy, which is the energy of motion; potential energy, which depends on relative position; or energy contained by a field, such as electromagnetic waves.
  • Heat consists of random motion and the vibrations of atoms, molecules, and ions.
  • The higher the temperature, the greater the atomic or molecular motion.
  • Everything tends to become less organized and less orderly over time. Thus, in all energy transfers, the overall effect is that the energy is spread out uniformly when we burn fuels.

Fundamental concepts that underlie Interations of Energy & Matter include:

  • Waves, including sound and seismic waves, waves on water, and light waves, have energy and can transfer energy when they interact with matter.

Content Standard D: Earth and Space Science (pp. 187-190 )
Fundamental concepts that underlie Energy in the Earth System include:

  • Earth systems have internal and external sources of energy, both of which create heat.
  • The sun is the major external source of energy.
  • Heating of earth's surface and atmosphere by the sun drives convection within the atmosphere and oceans, producing winds and ocean currents.
  • Global climate is determined by energy transfer from the sun at and near the earth's surface. This energy transfer is influenced by dynamic processes such as cloud cover and the earth's rotation, and static conditions such as the position of mounta in ranges and oceans.

Content Standard E: Science and Technology (pp. 190-193)
Fundamental concepts that underlie Disorder Understandings About Science & Technology include:

  • Scientists in different disciplines ask different questions, use different methods of investigation, and accept different types of evidence to support their explanations.
  • Many scientific investigations require the contributions of individuals from different disciplines, including engineering.
  • Science often advances with the introduction of new technologies. Solving technological problems often results in new scientific knowledge.
  • New technologies often extend the current levels of scientific understanding and introduce new areas of research.
  • Science and technology are pursued for different purposes. Scientific inquiry is driven by the desire to understand the natural world, and technological design is driven by the need to meet human needs and solve human problems.
  • Technology, by its nature, has a more direct effect on society than science because its purpose is to solve human problems, help humans adapt, and fulfill human aspirations.
  • Technological solutions may create new problems. Science, by its nature, answers questions that may or may not directly influence humans. Sometimes scientific advances challenge people's beliefs and practical explanations concerning various aspects of the world.

Content Standard F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives (pp. 193-199)
Fundamental concepts that underlie Personal & Community Health include:

  • Hazards and the potential for accidents exist. Regardless of the environment, the possibility of injury, illness, disability, or death may be present.

Fundamental concepts that underlie Natural & Human-Induced Hazards include:

  • Normal adjustments of earth may be hazardous for humans.
  • Humans live at the interface between the atmosphere driven by solar energy and the upper mantle where convection creates changes in the earth's solid crust.
  • Some hazards, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and severe weather, are rapid and spectacular.
  • Natural and human-induced hazards present the need for humans to assess potential danger and risk.
  • Students should understand the costs and trade-offs of various hazards-ranging from those with minor risk to a few people to major catastrophes with major risk to many people.
  • The scale of events and the accuracy with which scientists and engineers can (and cannot) predict events are important considerations.

Fundamental concepts that underlie Science & Technology in Local, National, & Global Challenges include:

  • Science and technology are essential social enterprises, but alone they can only indicate what can happen, not what should happen. The latter involves human decisions about the use of knowledge.
  • Decisions involve assessment of alternatives, risks, costs, and benefits and consideration of who benefits and who suffers, who pays and gains, and what the risks are and who bears them.
  • Students should understand the appropriateness and value of basic questions-"What can happen?"- "What are the odds?"-and "How do scientists and engineers know what will happen?"

Project 2061 Benchmarks (Benchmarks On-Line)
By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that:
Content Standard: Chapter 11, Common Themes
11A Systems:

  • A system usually has some properties that are different from those of its parts, but appear because of the interaction of those parts.
  • Understanding how things work and designing solutions to problems of almost any kind can be facilitated by systems analysis.
  • In defining a system, it is important to specify its boundaries and subsystems, indicate its relation to other systems, and identify what its input and its output are expected to be.
  • Even in some very simple systems, it may not always be possible to predict accurately the result of changing some part or connection.

11B Models:

  • The basic idea of mathematical modeling is to find a mathematical relationship that behaves in the same ways as the objects or processes under investigation.
  • Computers have greatly improved the power and use of mathematical models by performing computations that are very long, very complicated, or repetitive.
  • The graphic capabilities of computers make them useful in the design and testing of devices and structures and in the simulation of complicated processes.
  • The usefulness of a model can be tested by comparing its predictions to actual observations in the real world.

11C Constancy and Change:

  • Graphs and equations are useful (and often equivalent) ways for depicting and analyzing patterns of change.
  • Predictable or not, the precise future of a system is not completely determined by its present state and circumstances but also depends on the fundamentally uncertain outcomes of events on the atomic scale.

11D Scale:

  • Because different properties are not affected to the same degree by changes in scale, large changes in scale typically change the way that things work in physical, biological, or social systems.
  • As the number of parts of a system grows in size, the number of possible internal interactions increases much more rapidly, roughly with the square of the number of parts.

Content Standard: Chapter 1, The Nature of Science
1A The Scientific World View:

  • Scientists assume that the universe is a vast single system in which the basic rules are the same everywhere.
  • Change and continuity are persistent features of science.
  • In science, the testing, revising, and occasional discarding of theories, new and old never ends.

1B Scientific Inquiry:

  • Investigations are conducted for different reasons, including to explore new phenomena, to check on previous results, to test how well a theory predicts, and to compare different theories.
  • Hypotheses are widely used in science for choosing what data to pay attention to and what additional data to seek, and for guiding the interpretation of the data (both new and previously available).
  • Sometimes, scientists can control conditions in order to obtain evidence. When that is not possible for practical or ethical reasons, they try to observe as wide a range of natural occurrences as possible to be able to discern patterns.

1C The Scientific Enterprise:

  • Many problems are studied by scientists using information and skills from many disciplines.
  • Disciplines do not have fixed boundaries, and it happens that new scientific disciplines are being formed where existing ones meet and that some subdisciplines spin off to become new disciplines in their own right.
  • Scientists can bring information, insights, and analytical skills to bear on matters of public concern.
  • Funding influences the direction of science by virtue of the decisions that are made on which research to support.

Content Standard: Chapter 4, The Physical Setting
4F Motion:

  • The change in motion of an object is proportional to the applied force and inversely proportional to the mass.
  • A great variety of radiations are electromagnetic waves: radio waves, microwaves, radiant heat, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, x rays, and gamma rays.
  • The energy of waves (like any form of energy) can be changed into other forms of energy.

4G Forces of Nature:

  • Electromagnetic forces acting within and between atoms are vastly stronger than the gravitational forces acting between the atoms.
  • There are two kinds of charges-positive and negative. Like charges repel one another, opposite charges attract.
  • Negative charges, being associated with electrons, are far more mobile in materials than positive charges are.

4E Energy Transformations:

  • Heat energy in a material consists of the disordered motions of its atoms or molecules.
  • In any interactions of atoms or molecules, the statistical odds are that they will end up with less order than they began-that is, with the heat energy spread out more evenly.
  • Transformations of energy usually produce some energy in the form of heat, which spreads around by radiation or conduction into cooler places. Although just as much total energy remains, its being spread out more evenly means less can be done with it.
  • The energy released in each nuclear reaction is very much greater than the energy given off in each chemical reaction.

4C Processes that Shape the Earth:

  • The formation, weathering, sedimentation, and reformation of rock constitute a continuing "rock cycle" in which the total amount of material stays the same as its forms change.

4B The Earth:

  • Life is adapted to conditions on the earth, including the force of gravity that enables the planet to retain an adequate atmosphere, and an intensity of radiation from the sun that allows water to cycle between liquid and vapor.
  • Weather (in the short run) and climate (in the long run) involve the transfer of energy in and out of the atmosphere.
  • Solar radiation heats the land masses, oceans, and air.
  • Transfer of heat energy at the boundaries between the atmosphere, the land masses, and the oceans results in layers of different temperatures and densities in both the ocean and atmosphere.
  • The action of gravitational force on regions of different densities causes them to rise or fall-and such circulation, influenced by the rotation of the earth, produces winds and ocean currents.

Content Standard: Chapter 12, Habits of Mind
12B Computation and Estimation:

  • Use ratios and proportions, including constant rates, in appropriate problems.
  • Find answers to problems by substituting numerical values in simple algebraic formulas and judge whether the answer is reasonable by reviewing the process and checking against typical values.
  • Use computer spreadsheet, graphing, and database programs to assist in quantitative analysis.
  • Compare data for two groups by representing their averages and spreads graphically.
  • Trace the source of any large disparity between an estimate and the calculated answer.
  • Consider the possible effects of measurement errors on calculations.

12C Manipulation and Observation:

  • Learn quickly the proper use of new instruments by following instructions in manuals or by taking instructions from an experienced user.
  • Use computers for producing tables and graphs and for making spreadsheet calculations.

12D Communication Skills:

  • Choose appropriate summary statistics to describe group differences, always indicating the spread of the data as well as the data's central tendencies.
  • Use and correctly interpret relational terms such as if . . . then . . . , and, or, sufficient, necessary, some, every, not, correlates with, and causes.
  • Participate in group discussions on scientific topics by restating or summarizing accurately what others have said, asking for clarification or elaboration, and expressing alternative positions.
  • Use tables, charts, and graphs in making arguments and claims in oral and written presentations.

12E Critical-Response Skills

  • Notice and criticize arguments based on the faulty, incomplete, or misleading use of numbers, such as in instances when:
  1. Average results are reported, but not the amount of variation around the average
  2. A percentage or fraction is given, but not the total sample size (as in "9 out of 1- dentists recommend...")
  3. Absolute and proportional quantities are mixed (as in "3,400 more robberies in our city last year, whereas other cities had an increase of less than 1%)
  4. Results are reported with overstated precision (as in representing 13 out of 19 students as 68.42%)
  5. Check graphs to see that they do not misrepresent results by using inappropriate scales or by failing to specify the axes clearly.
  6. Wonder how likely it is that some event of interest might have occurred just by chance.
  7. Insist that the critical assumptions behind any line of reasoning be made explicit so that the validity of the position being taken-whether one's own or that of others-can be judged.
  8. Be aware, when considering claims, that when people try to prove a point, they may select only the data that support it and ignore any that would contradict it.
  9. Suggest alternative ways of explaining data and criticize arguments in which data, explanations, or conclusions are represented as the only ones worth consideration, with no mention of other possibilities. Similarly, suggest alternative trade-offs in decisions and designs and criticize those in which major trade-offs are not acknowledged.
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Maintained by ETE Team
Last updated April 21, 2011

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