Blooming Thermometers

In this activity, students develop an understanding of the relationship between natural phenomena, weather, and climate change: the study known as phenology. In addition, they learn how cultural events are tied to the timing of seasonal events. Students brainstorm annual natural phenomena that are tied to seasonal weather changes. Next, they receive information regarding the Japanese springtime festival of Hanami, celebrating the appearance of cherry blossoms. Students plot and interpret average bloom date data from over the past 1100 years.

Go To:

Lisa Gardiner
et al.
National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)

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Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips

Consider an extension: Students might struggle with understanding the difference between regional climate and local weather in this activity. This presents a great opportunity for the educator to teach the link between weather (that influences the cherry blossom in a single year) and the regional climate - a good way of engaging students in this thinking process. (This is not done explicitly in activity and needs to be added by educator.)

Ideally students would look at the original data source and not just at the compiled data that is an average of centuries.

Exercise only asks students to do one graphing exercise - could easily be extended.