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Issue 37: The Weather

This issue of the Primary Magazine from the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) takes weather as its inspiration for a number of mathematical starting points.

Stormy weather gives rise to opportunities to discuss and work with large numbers, speed, distance and time, percentages and probability with a range of mathematical facts such as:

*at any given moment, there are an estimated 2 000 thunderstorms in progress over the Earth's surface

*it is also estimated that there are around 44 000 thunderstorms around the Earth every day!

*thunder clouds can extend upwards as high as eight to twelve miles

*the upper portions of the storm are made of ice. About 50% of the rain that reaches the ground was ice

*the chances of being struck by lightning are estimated to be 1 in 600 000, but could be reduced even further by following safety precautions

These facts and more could lead to some exciting mathematical activities and discoveries. However other subject areas, such as English, art and music, also benefit from the mathematical activities suggested in this section.

Rainy weather leads into more facts and ideas for data collection and for forecasting the weather using the tossing of coins as predictors or wet or dry weather

Sunny days - everybody wishes for sunny days over the summer season and plan for enjoyable days out but what do people do on sunny days and what are the most popular activities? These questions are posed as prerequisites for planning and designing a survey to find out.

Large numbers reoccur when discussing the sun and its size and temperature but also when relating to the sizes and distances of the planets. Students are challenged to build a scale model showing the size of the Earth and other planets in relation to the sun using the information given in this section.

Sun dials, anemometers, kites - through kite-making children experience planning, measuring, understanding the relationship of weight to surface area, getting the angle of the bridle line right in relation to the main body of the kite. Weather vanes make good projects for constructing and link the mathematics to science and geography. The magazine article describes how to make kites, anemometers and weather vanes and gives suitable activities for each one.

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