Weather Week Banner

Weather Week

Period: 11-17 May 2020

This week is all about the weather!

It has been warm and sunny recently, which has been great for all the trees and flowers that we were looking at in Spring Week! Have another look around and see how many leaves have come out and look for different flowers in the gardens when you are out for your walk. There is so much to see.

The conditions have been great for star gazing too recently - have you had a chance to check the night sky?

As part of Weather Week we would like you to take part in our weather recording project - Weather Watchers UK.

Each day you can check the weather and record your findings.

To help you each day we will have a think about different weather conditions and how to identify different clouds and would you believe - different kinds of rain!

We would like you to be thinking about what weather conditions we need for crops to grow and what seasonal fruit and vegetables are available at the moment. We will also have an exciting report from our friends in Malawi and learn about the different crops they are growing and how this is possible with the extreme weather conditions they experience!

Electrical Storm, Canada



Introduction To Weather Watchers UK

We are excited to invite you to join in the first Weather Watchers UK event for this week.

Each day record the weather outside, it will just take two minutes, and then see how the weather compares with your friends and family in the UK.

You will be asked to record:

  • Cloud Cover
  • Temperature
  • Weather Conditions

As you record the weather as we progress through the week you will also be finding out about how the weather can affect our every day life.

Make Your First Observation!


Did you know there are over 100 different types of clouds?

Lets have a look at a few of the more common clouds, have a look and see if you can spot them when out on your daily walk. You will have more facts for you to impress your friends and family with!

These are some of the clouds you might see:


These are the most common type people like to draw. They are rounded and puffy and when they are in the sky when it is sunny they are a really bright white colour. They are often known as the fair weather clouds because you are most likely to see them when the sun is out and heating the ground. You will see them mostly in the late morning and then they disappear towards the evening.

Small Cumulus

These clouds do not produce rain but the larger ones can give us light to moderate showers.


This cloud is a lower layer of cloud and is the most widespread of all cloud types in the UK. When you are trying to name the clouds if the sky is overcast and the colours are a mixture of white and dark grey - this is Stratocumulus. We don’t want to see these as they are very good at blocking out the sunshine!

Cumulonimbus - Storm Clouds!

These are the powerhouse of the atmosphere - it can spread over 10 miles into the sky. It is dark and ragged and angry looking. They produce heavy rain, snow and often hailstones - none of which we like! These clouds bring really heavy downpours rather then continuous drizzly rain.


These are the form of layers or patches of clumps of cloud known as cloudlets. It might look like lots of cotton wool balls in the sky. These clouds are a sign that there are storms ahead. If they have very bumpy tops it means the atmosphere is unstable and the cumulus clouds will be building into Cumulonimbus storm clouds and that means heavy showers for later in the day!


These are the most beautiful of the main cloud types. These are like watercolour brush strokes across the blue sky. They are made of ice crystals that fall through the high atmosphere. As they pass through faster and slower winds and drier and more moist air it causes the cloud to have distinctive wavy strokes known as “fallstreaks“


This is short for ‘condensation trails’, these are the lines of cloud that can sometimes form behind aircraft up at cruising height. Formed from the water vapour (water in gas form) that is part of the aircraft exhaust, these straight, crisp lines of condensation could hardly look more different from the wild, chaotic forms of the natural clouds. They only appear when the air up at cruising height is cold enough and moist enough. At other times, no cloud appears behind the plane.

See if you can spot any over the next few days and record what you see.

Can you see any out the window today? What size are they?

Use the Met Office's Cloud Spotting Guide to help learn and remember the different cloud types.

Watch the Met Office's cloud spotting video below to learn more.

Cloud Spotting Video

Now you have learnt about the different clouds and how to spot them, why not try to Draw Clouds using the activity link.

Cloud Types (PDF)
Met Office Cloud Spotting Guide (PDF)

Black Hole Hosts Universe's Most Massive Water Cloud
Cloud Fact: There is a water vapour cloud in space which has 100 trillion times the amount of water present on Earth! Learn more by reading Black Hole Hosts Universe's Most Massive Water Cloud

Record Your Weather Watchers Observations


Where does rain come from?

None of us like the rain and it can be quite destructive when there is too much of it and we end up with flooding. So where does it come from...

It all starts with the warmth from the sun - it heats the sea or water on land - the water then begins to evaporate. it changes from a liquid to a gas and this warm air then begins to rise.

The warm moist air starts to cool as it reaches the cold air high up in the atmosphere. Condensation occurs and of course we know what happens next... clouds are formed!

You can build a mini water cycle in a bag now using our Water cycle in a Bag worksheet activity.

The water droplets all join together to form clouds and when they are big and full enough - yes it rains!

There are 3 types of rain:

  • Orographic Rainfall
  • Convectional Rainfall
  • Frontal Rainfall

Watch this video to learn more about why it rains.

Why Does It Rain?

Follow the instructions on the worksheet to build your own Rain Collector and Gauge - and yes your first place to go again is the recycle box!

You can also read 10 Weird Facts About Rain to learn some strange things!


Rainbows are formed when sunlight passes through rain or water drops.

A rainbow is created when white light is bent while entering a droplet of water, split into separate colours and reflected back. A rainbow is actually round.

Why not make a sun catcher using the activity sheet and hang it in the window and you will see all the colours of the rainbow when the sun catches it.

See what colours you can see if you watch closely.

Now watch this video to learn more about how rainbows are formed and how to remember the colours.

How Is A Rainbow Formed

Record Your Weather Watchers Observations

Solar Power and Technologies

In Mechanical Engineering, one of my favourite topics of investigation is Energy Conversion technologies, where one of the renewable technologies continuously being developed is Solar Technology.

Solar Power can be used to generate electricity and heat energy for fluids. Modern Solar Power technologies began to be developed in 1954 where solar- panel cells, precisely known as ‘Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Cells’, could be used to generate electricity in industrial plants. The idea is that heat energy is transferred from our Sun to the land and sea in the form of solar radiation, which can be collected using solar panels. These can convert heat energy into electrical energy and supply electricity to our homes and the electrical grids.

Solar Collectors are another set of technology which use heat exchangers to transfer the heat energy in two ways:

  1. By directly heating the water which can be used in boilers at home.
  2. By converting the heat into kinetic and then electrical energy to be used at homes, offices, schools and industrial plants.

Here is a Parabolic solar collector, one of the simplest forms of harnessing solar energy, where the reflective surface directs the solar radiation onto the pipe containing the fluid, e.g. water, to be heated.

Soham Deshpande
Soham Deshpande
Mechanical Engineering student, currently an Intern at Rolls-Royce

"I am currently an Undergraduate student of Mechanical Engineering at Queen Mary University of London and am also currently undertaking a 12-month long internship at Rolls- Royce in a team to develop future technologies, such as a whole-engine simulation capability and Computational Fluid Dynamics modelling and testing. Throughout my engineering degree, I have enjoyed learning about fluid mechanics and heat transfer which I use daily, incorporated into my internship work."

"Outside work, I enjoy various sports such as Cricket, Basketball and Table Tennis which help me build the right balance between work and leisure time and find that my interest in playing Acoustic Guitar also keeps me motivated and energetic during free time. Being passionate about technology and the space-sector, I regularly follow new digital technological developments and aerospace related updates across the world."

Solar Power Activity Worksheet 1 Solar Power Activity Worksheet #1

Solar Power Activity Worksheet 2 Solar Power Activity Worksheet #2

Record Your Weather Watchers Observations

10. Extreme Weather

We now have a better understanding of clouds and rain from earlier this week and found out about using the sun for power - but what about extreme weather and so-called natural disasters.

Can you think of an extreme weather situation that has happened in the UK recently?

What about flooding?

In February this year, we had so much rain that there was serious flooding on the roads, and rivers were bursting their banks - some people had to leave their homes because of the flooding!

It was much worse in England where houses and cars were completely covered in water.

UK Floods

What about heavy snow?

The so-called "Beast from the East" in 2018 brought much of Scotland to a standstill with motorways blocked and people stuck in their cars for hours and hours.

Beast From the East

Do you remember this?

Why not add to your weather station by building a wind anemometer by following our activity worksheet.

Natural Disasters

We have talked about "extreme weather" conditions but what about natural disasters?

Can you think of an example of a natural disaster?

What about a hurricane, tornadoes or even a Tsunami?

We do have tornadoes in the UK but not as strong as other parts of the world.

What about hurricanes - do you think we will see one in the UK.

Hurricanes and Tornados

A Hurricane is also known as a tropical cyclone - perhaps the tropical bit will give away the answer - it is not warm enough in our country. The conditions to drive a hurricane must have a sea temperature of over 26.5 C - check the water in the sea if you are at the beach - I do not think it will be that warm!

Let's make a tornado in the bottle with the activity sheet and try not to make too much mess!


One of the most destructive of these weather conditions is a Tsunami.

These happen due to underwater volcanoes or underwater earthquakes - this is when 2 of the Earth's plates collide and cause a huge underwater tidal wave.

The volume of water that is displaced causes an incredible amount of damage - often washing entire villages away as it hits land.

Understanding how this incredible swell of water happens is fascinating, and you could even try to simulate one yourself.

Watch the video and find out more.

How Does Tsunamis Work?

Growing Seasons and Crops

Today we are going to think about what our farmers are planting and growing in the fields at the moment!

We are lucky to have a video blog from a friend in Malawi who is telling us all about what he grows in Africa to feed his family and how the weather affects his decisions. Quite a contrast!

If you are lucky to be able to walk in the country on your daily exercise you will see the farmers busy at work growing lots of crops for us to eat ,whether as cereal in the morning or flour for bread and barley for feeding the cattle through the winter.

Crops grown in Scotland include:

  • Spring barley – the main crop.
  • Winter wheat and winter barley.
  • Oilseed rape, potatoes and other root crops - to a lesser extent.
  • Soft fruit such as strawberries, raspberries and blackcurrants – grown mainly in Tayside and Fife.
  • Vegetables such as peas, carrots, turnips and swedes – grown mainly in Tayside and Fife.

Once we are all able to go out and about again normally please try to look at the different crops growing in the fields and see if you can work out what is growing and when - is it Spring or Summer planting?

How about growing something yourself. Did you try the tomato seeds in Spring Week? If so did they work? Do you have any seedlings?

How about trying potatoes - they are easy to grow and usually very successful.

Our friends at Potato House have donated some potato growing kits to an after school club and we hope to see how they get on in the weeks to come.

If you would like to try here is some information from Potato House

A potato growing bag will take 2 or 3 tubers - fill the bag about 2/3 up with soil and then put the tubers in and cover and water. As the leaves start to come through, cover them again - this is counter-intuitive! But this encourages more downward growth and fewer new tubers growing at the top (where they can become green in the sun and not good to eat) keep covering till the bag is almost full. They need to be kept well watered, but not waterlogged.

Harvest would be around the end of August to the start of September. You will get about 10 tubers from each old one.

Scotland grows potatoes, however, in other parts of the world the crops can be very different.

Learn more by reading on...

Potato House Growing Kits
Potato House Growing Kits

Record Your Weather Watchers Observations

Weather and Growing Food in Malawi

In Malawi, the primary crops include Maize and groundnuts (which are both very different from potatoes).

We are very fortunate to have our friend James, who lives in Malawi, explaining to us via video, about growing food and his life which includes farming in Malawi.

Greets From Malawi
Growing Maize in Malawi
Working in Malawi

Do you recognise Maize or the groundnuts from the videos or these photographs?

Did you notice that James uses no machines to farm his crops - this is not the same as UK farmers? Why do you think that might be?

Maize is hand shelled
Maize is hand shelled
Groundnuts are left to dry in the sun
Groundnuts are left to dry in the sun
Maize crop before harvesting
Maize crop before harvesting
Maize crop after harvest
Maize crop after harvest

Going To School...

Sometimes you may have gone to school in the rain. However, have you ever had to take your shoes off to walk through the puddles on the way to school?

This is what it is like in Malawi to go to school often during rainy season.

Going To School In The Rain In Malawi

BBC Weather Links

Today is the last day of our Weather Week, however, you can still learn more about different types of weather and how they are measured and used to make weather forecasts, with the help of BBC Scotland weather presenter Kawser Quamer.

BBC Bitesize Weather Videos

Note: You will need a BBC login to access these videos (which is free if you have a TV license).

Also see our other Home Learning Topics information and our Learning Resources.

If you have enjoyed these activities please share them with your friends and family.