What is it about fall in southwestern Pennsylvania that is so delightful? If you're a grown-up, spending quality time at Heinz Field is probably much higher on your list of fall favorites than spending quality time with your rake. If you're a preschooler, however, a pile of leaves in the yard can't be beat. Between football and yard work, take some time this season to enjoy the milder temperatures and beautiful colors with your young learner and try some weather science.
Meteorologists study the variations of Earth's atmosphere and how they influence the weather we experience daily, such as wind and precipitation. Just like a meteorologist, observation is a great way for your child to learn about the weather. Ask your preschooler about the blustery fall wind -- we can feel it, but can we see it? Look around while waiting for the bus -- can you see a flag, some leaves or anything else blowing in the wind?
Although modern meteorologists have access to advanced instruments, you and your child can make the same types of observations with household objects. Do you have a thermometer outside? Make a note of the temperature when your student leaves for school, and again in the evening. How does it change throughout the day? Is it warmer in the sun or the shade? By hanging a windsock, you can observe wind direction and speed. Does the wind blow more on rainy days or sunny days? Young scientists can make a rain gauge by taping a cup to a pencil or a dowel rod and driving into the ground. With your weather station established, your child will be ready to learn about and enjoy fall's conditions, be they stormy or sunny.
Carnegie Science Center can bring traveling science programs, including the assembly "Up in the Air," to your child's preschool classroom. Visit carnegiesciencecenter.org for more information.