Education and
Public Engagement
at the Lunar and Planetary Institute
Explore! Jupiter's Family Secrets

Weather Stations

Overview

These short activities covering weather can be done as stations or individually. 

Weather Station 1. Temperature and Pressure
Discover the relationship between temperature and pressure in the lower atmosphere.

Weather Station 2. Phase Change
Observe the water cycle in a tumbler as water vapor condenses.

Weather Station 3. Clouds
Observe Earth clouds and compare them with Jupiter’s clouds.

Weather Station 4. Storms
Model storms with corn starch and glitter in water.

Weather Station 5. Winds
Use rising air from a toaster to generate wind.

Weather Station 6. Jovian Poetry
Compose different styles of poems about clouds.

Weather Station 7. How's the Weather on Jupiter?
Build weather instruments from common materials.

Preparation

The activities in this module can be done in many different ways.
They can be facilitator-led and undertaken sequentially by the entire audience, or they can be set up as stations that are visited by small groups or individuals.

If stations are set up, it is recommended that an adult or older child be present at each station to serve as a host and to prompt the children's thinking. Station hosts may also demonstrate and/or assist younger children in completing the activity. Each activity has facilitator’s notes for the hosts.

  • Become familiar with the first section of the background information:
  • Use the shopping list to purchase materials.
  • For stations, locate seven areas that are accessible by groups of 3 to 6 children.
  • Label each station with a banner or poster and place the appropriate materials at the station.
  • Divide the children into teams of 3 to 6; have them circulate from station to station.
  • Provide each child with a My Trip to Jupiter Journal and remind them to annotate their "Weather Stations" pages for each station visited.
  • Optional: Post a "vocabulary wall": a chalk or white board, or poster paper and markers, to record terms that come up as they visit the stations.

Introduce the activity with the following story to set the stage for this stations activity.

Optional: Play the movie of Voyager 1's approach while you read the story.

Imagine you are in a spacecraft, flying toward Jupiter! As you approach the planet, in grows larger in your windows until it fills your entire view.

Jupiter is 11 times wider than Earth! Everything here is BIG! Its swirling clouds conceal its interior from us.

Your imaginary spacecraft will be able to do something real spacecraft haven't been able to do: dive into the atmosphere of Jupiter! Your spacecraft will move slowly, taking time to examine the layers of the atmosphere. In our imaginations, our spacecraft can hold up to the planet's cold outer layers, hot interior, turbulent storms, and immense pressures. Hang on for the ride!

As the children finish the stations invite them back to a common area where they can share their drawings, notes, poems, and comparisons of Earth's and Jupiter's atmospheres.

Conclusion

Summarize that Jupiter has a distinct banded appearance, violent storms, and clouds of many different colors. Jupiter's atmosphere can be compared to Earth's in many ways, but its rapid rotation, strong convection, deep layers, and composition generate exceptional weather.

Ask the children to describe what they think the clouds and weather — including the wind speeds and directions, precipitation, and temperatures — are like in Jupiter's atmosphere. Invite them to share their drawings, plots, and conclusions with the group. Have them share what questions they still have about Jupiter's atmosphere. Remind them that the Juno spacecraft will collect data — just as the children themselves did during this activity — to help uncover the mysteries of Jupiter's atmosphere. Juno will measure the atmosphere's temperature and amounts of water and ammonia at different depths, helping to explain the planet's distinct banded appearance. This information will help scientists understand the winds deep in Jupiter's atmosphere and piece together Jupiter's internal structure. JunoCam will take pictures of the planet, which scientists and students will use to study the poles.

If possible, build on the children's knowledge by offering them a future Jupiter's Family Secrets activity. Children ages 8 to 9 may wrap up their investigations of Jupiter by attending the concluding activity, My Trip to Jupiter, where they create scrapbooks to document their own journeys into Jupiter's deepest mysteries! Further investigations are offered for children ages 10 to 13, including Investigating the Insides, where teams mimic how scientists discover clues about the interiors of planets.