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Home | 2005 All*Star Game | 2005 Season | First Season at US Steel Yard | Student Field Trip

Student Field Trip

Science 6, Science 7, Science 8, and Earth Science
Two lesson plans: Humans affect atmosphere lab and Weather patterns lab

Cumulonimbus clouds to the north and east
Game was delayed by rain about 30 minutes later
Does Lake Michigan help drive weather like this?

Cumulus clouds to the north
Some days there isn't a cloud in the sky
Can you see the flags? Is there a land breeze or a lake effect breeze?


Date:                                                    Sometime during baseball season

Subject Matter:                                 Weather patterns lab

Course/Grade Level:                       Science 6, 7, 8, and Earth Science

Lesson Title:                                     The weather, the lake, and US Steel Yard

Time Period:                                      5 Days (much longer for science fair projects)


Objectives:  The students will be able to (SWBAT):


Indiana Science Standard 6.2.3      Select tools, such as cameras and tape recorders, for capturing information.


Indiana Science Standard 6.2.5   Organize information in simple tables and graphs and identify relationships they reveal.  Use tables and graphs as examples of evidence for explanations when writing essays or writing about lab work, fieldwork, etc. 

Indiana Science Standard 6.3.9      Illustrate that the cycling of water in and out of the atmosphere plays an important role in determining climatic patterns.

Indiana Science Standard 6.3.12   Describe ways human beings protect themselves from adverse weather conditions.

Indiana Science Standard  7.1.2     Explain that what people expect to observe often affects what they actually do observe and provide an example of a solution to this problem.

Indiana Science Standard 7.2.7   Incorporate circle charts, bar and line graphs, diagrams, scatter plots, and symbols into writing, such as lab or research reports, to serve as evidence for claims and/or conclusions.

Indiana Science Standard 7.7.3      Describe how physical and biological systems tend to change until they reach equilibrium and remain that way unless their surroundings change.

Indiana Science Standard 8.2.8   Use tables, charts, and graphs in making arguments and claims in, for example, oral and written presentations about lab or fieldwork.

Indiana Science Standard 8.2.9      Explain why arguments are invalid if based on very small samples of data, biased samples, or samples for which there was no control sample.

Indiana Science Standard 8.5.6      Explain that a single example can never prove that something is always true, but it could prove that something is not always true.

Indiana Science Standard 8.5.7      Recognize and describe the danger of making over-generalizations when inventing a general rule based on a few observations.

Indiana Science Standard ES.1.16  Investigate the causes of severe weather, and propose appropriate safety measures that can be taken in the event of severe weather.

 Materials/Equipment/Technology/Resources Needed:

At the game:

Pencil, notepad, and digital camera.  Transportation and tickets to Gary Southshore Railcats baseball game.


In the classroom:

Computer access for each student, Microsoft Word software,  LCD projector (optional) for teacher's computer.  Display boards for science fair projects.


Procedures for meeting objectives:


The intention of this field lab is to observe and record the wind direction and cloud formations near US Steel Yard (Railcats stadium).  Why conduct this field lab from US Steel Yard?  What better place to do scientific research if not from a great ballpark located blocks from a huge inland sea (Lake Michigan)?  Large bodies of water like Lake Michigan help drive our weather patterns.


(Science 6.3.9, 7.7.3) Temperature affects water in the air.  Warm air causes liquid water to gain energy and evaporate into water vapor, a gas.  Water vapor eventually loses energy and condenses into droplets or other liquid or solid forms.  When evaporation and condensation are balanced, the air is saturated.  Evaporation and condensation have reached equilibrium.  At this height of the atmosphere, clouds form.  This equilibrium (or saturation) remains until a change occurs, such as a rain downpour or the clouds dissipate.


(Science 6.3.12, ES 1.16)  Look for the presence of cumulonimbus clouds.  Severe weather is often associated with these clouds.  Identify the lightning rods located on the highest points in the ballpark.  Notice the overhang over the concourse area to protect fans in the event of a sudden downpour.  Can you identify other measures at the ballpark to protect fans against adverse weather conditions?


(Science 6.2.3, 6.2.5, 7.2.7, 8.2.8)  The steel mill is to the north of US Steel Yard ballpark.  Lake Michigan is north of the steel mill.  North is toward left and left-center field, therefore the students should look in that direction when making their observations.   Suggestion: Use a digital camera to photograph the sky in the direction of the steel mill each inning.  Back in the classroom, make a table and insert the photos in corresponding rows of the table and describe the sky during each inning.  Enhance lab reports by using the appropriate graph types to display comparisons.


(Science 7.1.2, 8.2.9, 8.5.6, 8.5.7)  Possible science fair project:  If the student observer already knows what to look for, then the observer may only record observations when air pollution is visible.  A solution to this problem is to have the student record observations without knowing why the student is making observations.  Several trips to the ballpark will have to be made to gather enough data for a science fair project.  A single trip to the ballpark can never prove that a body of water like Lake Michigan helps drive our weather patterns.  There may be no clouds in the sky that day.  However, a single trip CAN prove Lake Michigan doesn’t always help drive our weather patterns if no clouds are observed that day.  Students must be made aware of the dangers of making over-generalizations when reaching conclusions on the lake’s role in our weather patterns.


Student Assessment Procedures:


Students will be assessed using a five-point rubric on how well the objections were met in their lab observations.  Student understanding will also be assessed through a possible science fair project based on variations of this lab.



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