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NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory


K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th


Science, Earth and Space Sciences, Mathematics

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plan, 30-60 minutes
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Data
  • Worksheet
  • Assessment
  • Video

Regional Focus

Global, North America, United States



Precipitation Towers: Modeling Weather Data

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  • In this lesson, students will examine precipitation data in various American cities, how storms move around the world, and the negative impacts of extreme precipitation.
  • Students will engage in a classroom activity that involves stacking cubes and pattern recognition, videos that delve into the implications of extreme precipitation, and an assessment that gauges their comprehension of the lesson's material.
Teaching Tips


  • This lesson does not require an extensive amount of materials.
  • This lesson provides many opportunities for extension, such as describing large frontal storm formation, the drought classification system, and the importance of precise precipitation data.

Additional Prerequisites

  • This lesson has a "background" section about precipitation for educators to deepen their understanding.
  • Students should understand precipitation, how to use models to represent data, and how to analyze and compare bar graphs.


  • This lesson can fit within a larger unit on how climate change impacts precipitation/seasonal patterns.
  • Some elements of this lesson are better suited for older students, such as researching precipitation data.
  • Students can look at and graph the precipitation data of their community, independently or as a whole class, and compare the data to that of other cities.
  • Classes can choose one city and graph the annual average precipitation data and look for trends.
  • This lesson can support a classroom discussion about seasonal weather patterns that students have noticed in their community.
Scientist Notes

This resource is from the CLEAN collection. “The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness.”

  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • 3-ESS2-1 Represent data in tables and graphical displays to describe typical weather conditions expected during a particular season.
      • 3-ESS2-2 Obtain and combine information to describe climates in different regions of the world.
      • 5-ESS2-1 Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.
      • K-ESS2-1 Use and share observations of local weather conditions to describe patterns over time.
  • Common Core Math Standards (CCSS.MATH)
    • Measurement & Data (K-5)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.MD.A.2 Directly compare two objects with a measurable attribute in common, to see which object has "more of"/"less of" the attribute, and describe the difference. For example, directly compare the heights of two children and describe one child as taller/shorter.
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.1.MD.A.1 Order three objects by length; compare the lengths of two objects indirectly by using a third object.
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.1.MD.C.4 Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another.
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.2.MD.D.10 Draw a picture graph and a bar graph (with single-unit scale) to represent a data set with up to four categories. Solve simple put-together, take-apart, and compare problems using information presented in a bar graph.
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.3.MD.B.3 Draw a scaled picture graph and a scaled bar graph to represent a data set with several categories. Solve one- and two-step "how many more" and "how many less" problems using information presented in scaled bar graphs. For example, draw a bar graph in which each square in the bar graph might represent 5 pets.
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.4.MD.B.4 Make a line plot to display a data set of measurements in fractions of a unit (1/2, 1/4, 1/8). Solve problems involving addition and subtraction of fractions by using information presented in line plots. For example, from a line plot find and interpret the difference in length between the longest and shortest specimens in an insect collection.
    • Number & Operations in Base Ten (K-5)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NBT.A.4 Use place value understanding to round decimals to any place.
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