Forecast Central

For Teachers

Forecast Central is an online weather forecasting contest intended for elementary, middle, high school or college classes. Competing with their peers in the forecasting contest is fun and provides an opportunity to introduce or reinforce weather-related concepts in your class. You could choose to use it extensively in your classes to help teach weather and climate topics, or just use it as a change-of-pace activity for fun or extra credit. The basic contest instructions are here, but below is additional information relevant to teachers.

To register a class for Forecast Central, first register as a regular user, then send a message through the contact page, asking to be classified as a teacher. We will respond and then you can go to the Add a Class Page to create the class and enter the names of the students. Please save the starting and reset passwords in some way. Click submit and then the students will be registered, and you will see a list of their usernames, which will be the names you entered with a number appended. The students can then log in with the starting password (which they should change to their own passwords immediately). They can begin submitting forecasts right away. There is a page where you can see a list of all of your classes.

During weeks that the contest is active (most of the school year), we will issue a "forecast-of-the-day" on each weekday morning, for a given forecast site and variable (Tmin, Tmax or 24-hr liquid precipitation total). The site and variable are chosen for interesting weather situations, and sometimes to illustrate a weather concept, hopefully to reinforce and enrich what you are already teaching. Sometimes we will also post a teacher guidance section (only teachers should be able to see it), to help you think about that day's forecast and what concepts might be involved.

On some days, we will pose a related science question, which the students could answer in the comment that they submit with their forecast. The forecasts are for the next day, so it can be fun and educational to check on how the class forecasts are doing as the day progresses. Then the results are finalized the day after that, and there will be a review of the forecast posted for most days, discussing what happened and why, and reinforcing the scientific concepts involved.

It's common to ask a class to participate in the contest for a few days or weeks, at the same time that you are covering meteorology. You could use the contest just as an additional activity for the students, giving them extra credit for participation and quality in their forecasts and comments. You could also use the daily forecast assignments as a prompt for classroom discussions.