National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Climatic Data Center
Earth’s surface is a patchwork of climates, but the pattern is not random. There is an order to climate zones: students just need a key to unlock this climate puzzle.
Climate is not the same as weather. Weather is the day to day, even hour to hour condition of Earth’s lower atmosphere, but climate is the long-term average of atmospheric conditions at a particular place on Earth’s surface.
Certain factors interact to determine the climate of a particular place: latitude, elevation, prevailing winds, ocean currents, landforms, and location relative to water.
Constructing a Climate Graph
a) Make copies of the climate graph template for each student. Have students examine the template, observing that the left axis shows precipitation in millimeters; the right axis shows temperature in degrees Celsius; and the base identifies a column for each month of the year.
b) Look at the sample climate graph shown above. Point out that precipitation is represented by bars, while temperature is represented by points connected by a line. The color used relates to the climate zone in which the location is found. Access a map of climate zones with a color key at http://www.srh.noaa.gov/jetstream/global/climate_max.htm .
c) Precipitation and temperature data for thousands of locations worldwide can be found at http://www.worldclimate.com/ . Assign each student a different state in the US. Have students identify the largest city in that state. Then have them use the World Climate web site to find data for that city in order to plot precipitation bars and temperature points to create a climate graph. Remind students to use the correct color on their graphs (see the climate zone map referenced in step b, above). Also ask them to label the climate station, absolute location, and elevation of their assigned city.
a) When students have completed their climate graphs, have them locate each station on a map of the USA.
b) What climate characteristics does each location have? How are the locations similar? …different?
c) How do factors such as latitude, elevation, prevailing winds, ocean currents, landforms, and location relative to water help explain these similarities or differences?
Extending the Activity
a) Repeat the activity using cities from major world regions. Use a search engine to find images that are representative of each climate type.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the National Geographic Bee, the national finals will be held in a larger DC venue with tickets available to the public. Get your tickets for the May 22 finals and see the top ten students compete live with Alex Trebek moderating.
President surprises students with question on the Nuclear Security Summit.
Alex Trebek takes to the streets of Washington, D.C. to see how well residents know their geography.
For its entire history Mary Lee has overseen the National Geographic Bee. Her determined goal each year is to ensure a fair, fun, and inspiring experience for the geographic students.
Teachers and Parents
Principals of schools in the U.S. with any of the grades four through eight are eligible to register their schools to receive contest materials for a school-level Bee.
Wondering how to register for the Bee or how to prepare? Our "Frequently Asked Questions" have the answers!
What's the best way for students to prepare for the Bee? Here are some tips from the National Geographic Bee.
Answer sample questions from the National Geographic Bee, and get ideas on how to look for clues within the questions that can help you figure out the right answers.
Quizzes to Go
Do you have what it takes to be the next National Geographic Bee Champion? Find out the fun way with the new GeoBee Challenge! Three types of game play make sure you really know your stuff and never get bored.
Google Earth Presents
A look into why geography is important to understand as students around the country prepare for the 2013 National Geographic Bee.
Teachers can use these activities in the classroom to prepare students for the bee!
Simply memorizing terms and place locations can be tedious and even boring. One solution is to make the task fun with an atlas-based scavenger game.
The movement of people, goods, or ideas from one place to another is a process known as diffusion, which plays an important role in shaping the characteristics of where we live.
Springtime brings the possibility of extreme weather, including violent thunderstorms and tornadoes.