Students in middle school are very interested in hearing about science from “real” scientists! Although they have a lot of background knowledge about natural phenomena, they will also have misconceptions as well. They are also at the age in which they will begin to consider their future career interests, and hearing from you about why you chose your career will be very interesting to them. They may be reticent at first to answer questions for fear of “sticking out” among their peers. Take a few minutes to read over the “Giving Presentations in Secondary Schools” get a feel for what secondary school classes are like and some pointers for presenting to kids in these grade levels.
There are many ways in which the science behind the GPM mission is meaningful and engaging to children in middle school. Here are some of the Next Generation Science Standards (followed by most states across the country) that are germane to themes related to the science and technology behind the GPM mission. Note that you aren’t attempting to teach everything in the standards below- rather the information in the standard will give you a sense of what ultimately children in middle school need to know and do to demonstrate their knowledge. You are just one small step toward helping them achieve these rather broad and complicated standards of science.
- MS- ESS2 Earth’s Systems
- MS- ESS3 Earth and Human Activity
- MS- LS2 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
- MS- PS4 Waves and their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer
The key topic areas that are relevant to GPM and are related to students in these grade levels center around the water cycle, freshwater availability/resources, and technology and instrumentation. You can find many of the lessons plans and videos we have developed and gathered related to each of these topics below. You might look over these to get some ideas, and could also forward the lists to the teacher to offer them additional resources.
I have developed PowerPoint presentations that you might want to use (and feel free to modify) for each of these topics. You can download them for each of these topics below.
We have some “reading to be informed” articles which you could share with the teacher in case they wanted the students to read this information before or after your classroom visit.
- Water’s Family Tree: Where Did It Come From?
- Earth’s Water Delivery: No Passport Required
- Reading a Rain Gauge
- Precious Freshness
- Examining Precipitation on a Globe of Blue
We also have a longer brochure entitled “Understanding Earth: What’s Up With Precipitation?” which might be useful for the teacher to have access to in order to potentially add more content to your presentation at another time. You could also look over this brochure to get some ideas for information to share with students.
Take a look at our Earth Observations of Water eBook! You might use this instead of a PPT presentation, or in addition to the PPT, to share more in-depth information about how and why we measure precipitation from space.
I would also suggest that you take a look at the Precipitation Measurement Missions webpage to see the current GPM-related activities and animations, as well as the latest IMERG 7-day animation of precipitation data. While showing the IMERG animation, show the animation several times. Ask for a few observations that students can share about what they are seeing. Help them to note the direction of the wind in the upper and lower latitudes as compared to that of the equator. Have them note the keys at the bottom of the screen as well as the dates of the data they are observing.
If you want to include a hands-on activity, here are a few ideas that are good to do with middle school students.
- Rain Gauge Design Challenge
- Building for Hurricanes: Engineering Design Challenge
- Water Cycle Dice Game
- Looking at Storms in 3D
- GPM Core Observatory Paper Model
Finally, be sure to add a few slides or spend some time telling the students about why you decided to become a scientist. Share a few things that you were interested in related to science and technology when you were in middle school. Give a little information about what you do in your job that require strong math, reading, writing, and communication skills. Tell them a little bit about the college courses you took as well as the research you worked on while you were studying to become a scientist.
Have fun! Thanks for helping to inspire the next generation!