How cold is it at the North Pole?

My eldest, Cooper, is fascinated by temperature and weather. We’ve enjoyed some great books on the subject, including “Temperature: Heating Up and Cooling Down” by Darlene Stille and “What’s the Weather” by Melissa Stewart. I have a whole host of experiments on the “to do” list, including making our own thermometer (stay tuned!)

So, when Busy Teacher Monthly suggested graphing temperatures at the North Pole, I couldn’t help myself. To begin the activity, we talked about weather. I asked Cooper if he thought it was hot or cold at the North Pole and why. We looked at our globe, and I showed him how the sun’s rays hit the North Pole less directly compared to the equator, so it’s not as warm. We discussed what freezing means (32 degrees Farenheit at which point water will start to turn into a solid). Cooper predicted whether the North Pole was generally hotter or colder than where we lived.

Then, using Weather.com, we looked up the average temperatures for the North Pole for each month of the year. (The Web site will give you the average high and low; we went with the average high.) Using a piece of graph paper, we graphed the temperatures using a line graph. Monthly teacher recommends a bar graph, and in retrospect, I think this would have been more age appropriate for early elementary school students.

After we completed our graph, we talked about it. We observed that the average high temperature is below freezing for six months out of the year! We talked about what freezing feels like, comparing it to the freezer at the grocery store. (Brrrr.) And we discussed what kind of clothes Santa wears and why. (No wonder everything is fur trimmed!) And we talked about how the reindeer might keep warm. We’ll be studying reindeer later in the week, so this was a nice lead-in.

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