Changing the weather

Grade Level: Third grade
Subject Area: Social Studies
Approximate Time: 50 minutes




  1. Have the students volunteer to read the "Changing the Weather" section of the Weather book. Discuss the benefits of being able to change the weather at will. Have the students brainstorm some ways of how people could possibly control the weather.
  2. Explain to the students that scientists have developed a way to make more, and thicker, clouds. They drop small particles into the air over an area that needs rain. Ask class how this would cause rain. Explain that water that has evaporated from the ground, but has not condensed onto anything can condense around these particles. Discuss previous experiments on evaporation and condensation and how they would relate to what happens as clouds are forming . Explain that the particles that are being put into the air cause clouds, and possibly rain, to form over regions which otherwise would not have had rain.
  3. Explain to the class that this creation of rain would work wonderfully for a farmer who needs rain...but there is a problem. The water that was made to rain onto the fields in one location, probably would have rained somewhere else at a later date. But since it rained over the field the airplane flew over, there would not be enough water in the air for it to rain over the fields it would have otherwise. Ask the class if they see how this creates a problem.
  4. Hand out a copy of the "Rain Scenario" to each student. Call on students to read aloud.
  5. Ask the class what they think. Ask students to discuss their ideas with their peers who sit at their table. They should cover the following questions: Should Sam use the airplane to try to make clouds and rain over his fields? Is this fair to Sally and her crops? Is Sam stealing rain from Sally? Is there any way that Sally and Sam can solve their problems while still remaining friends? What would you do? As class discussion reconvenes, ask the tables individually what they decided upon. If the class seems to be all on the same "side", then play devil's advocate.


  1. Could students explain how scattering small particles in the air would begin the formation of clouds? Do students seem to realize the fact that there is a limited amount of moisture in the air?
  2. As I observed the debates at each individual table, did it seems as though students could back up their stance on the weather control issue effectively? Did they reason out their answers well or did they just seem to be taking any side?

Return to the Page of P. Laverty's Weather Unit
Return to the YLP Units Page
Return to the YLP 1995-1996 Home Page