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National Center for Atmospheric Research


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Activity - Classroom
  • Lesson Plans
  • Articles and Websites

Regional Focus


Differences Between Climate and Weather

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  • In this lesson on weather and climate, students will create two graphs that show climate averages and weather data from the last month to understand the differences between climate and weather.
  • The resource includes an article on weather and climate, a writing prompt, and extension activities.
Teaching Tips


  • The resource provides helpful questions in the "Use of Evidence to Critique Claims" section that will help students think about the differences between climate and weather data.
  • Students will get to work with real weather and climate data for the activity. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be familiar with graphing data.
  • The instructions in the Preparation section are no longer current, but students can still access data using the Weather Channel website, Weather Underground, and the NOAA website.


  • Students could perform the "Sense-making" activity as a skit and write a script for Gracie and Aaron to answer the questions.
  • This lesson would be a good way to begin a unit on climate change. Students could discuss why it is important for scientists to collect climate data so that they can track changes in the climate.
  • Other resources on this topic include this video on how to teach about weather and climate, this PBS video on why people confuse weather with climate, and this ClimateScience lesson on climate and weather.
Scientist Notes
Weather and climate are not the same. As Mark Twain put it "climate is what you expect, but weather is what you get". Weather is what happens on any given day. But climate is what happens on average over a 30-year period. This activity gives students a chance to use real weather data to compare what happens on a daily level compared to what happens at the climate level.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Science
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • MS-ESS2-5. Collect data to provide evidence for how the motions and complex interactions of air masses result in changes in weather conditions.
      • HS-ESS2-2. Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-5. Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
  • Related Resources


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