A Hands-On Learning Experience for Elementary School Students
(approximately grades 3-5)

Large photo collage featuring cloudy sky, wildfire, tornado,urban flood, glacier, thunder cloud, bright sun, iclicles, and night sky lightning.

Weather and climate influence every aspect of life. The goal of this project is to study the world of weather and climate, and specifically how they are influenced by natural processes and human activities. While the materials in this lab are written for the four states of Colorado, Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming, it can be applied in any state or region. After completing the hands-on experiments and activities, participants will have a better understanding of natural forces and human impacts.

In this Learning Lab, participants are guided as they explore data, patterns, extremes, and forecasts or predictions to better understand weather and climate connections. Based on the four-state region of focus, and its role in supplying water for agriculture, energy, industry and human consumption, particular attention is given to precipitation. Because of high social, economic, and environmental importance of precipitation patterns across these regions, present and future residents will need—and need to understand—climate and weather observations and projections.

4-H national peer reviewed icon
This research-based Learning Lab has been evaluated by the National 4-H Council and has been awarded national peer-reviewed status. Download the Leaders Guide from the Shop 4-H.

Each of the nine activities show a content skill, the 4-H Life Skills, and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Climate Literacy Framework associated with the topic.

  • Weather Data
  • Weather and Climate Patterns
  • Weather and Climate Extremes
  • Weather Forecasts
  • CO2, Greenhouse Impacts and Climate
  • Understanding Recent Climates Through Tree Rings
  • Oceans, Ice and Modeling Climate
  • Where Does the Carbon Go?
  • Weather and Climate Together, Now and in the Future

Yellow sun against red sky with clouds.The following states have Learning Labs—reserve one today! 

Colorado: 719.686.7961 | [email protected]

Montana: 406.994.3501 | [email protected]

Nebraska: 402.441.7180 | [email protected]

North Dakota: 701-231-6184 | [email protected]

South Dakota: 605.782.3290 | [email protected]

Wyoming: 307.721.2571 | [email protected]

Lightning against blue night sky.Download the 4-H Weather and Climate Youth Learning Lab Leader's Guide 

Ice covered trees along river.Download the 4-H Weather and Climate Youth Learning Lab Materials List

ThundercloudDownload the 4-H Weather and Climate Youth Learning Lab Website Links

Tornado touching down on green field.Get additional resources for each of the nine activities in the Learning Lab

Car submerged in urban flood waters.Use this editable form to get feedback on the Learning Lab activities (Click here for form in HTML.)

rainbowView these instructional videos on how to teach each activity.

Created by Liz Werner, 4-H Agent – Outreach & Schools Program, Colorado State University Extension

Introduction      Activity 1       Activity 2       Activity 3       Activity 4

Activity 5       Activity 6       Activity 7       Activity 8       Activity 9


The USDA, Agricultural Research Service’s Climate Hub Program in Fort Collins, Colorado, provided funding to South Dakota State University for this project through a Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement.


                                                          Northern Plains CLimate Hub Extension and Outreach color logo.          Northern Plains Climate Hub black and white logo.

      Colorado State Universty Extension color logo.         Montana State University Extension color logo.             South Dakota State University Extension color logo.           University of Wyoming Extension color logo.