Connecticut Content Standard 9: The Earth’s Atmosphere

Students will understand the composition and structure of the atmosphere, including energy transfers, the nature of weather and climate, and the effect of the atmosphere on human activity.

Grades K - 4

Educational experiences in Grades K - 4 will assure that students:

  • recognize (in Grades K-2) that air takes up space; air is colorless, tasteless and odorless; and you can only feel or hear air when it moves;
  • know (in Grades K-2) that air contains water, that clouds are made of water and ice, and that precipitation comes from clouds;
  • identify (in Grades K-2) simple weather instruments, such as thermometers and wind vanes;
  • know (in Grades K-2) what seasons exist in New England;
  • recognize (in Grades K-2) that the sun affects the weather on the Earth;
  • know that the Earth is covered by an atmosphere that is divided into layers;
  • recognize that air is a mixture of gases and can be compressed;
  • recognize that there are different forms of precipitation and identify these forms;
  • compare forms of hazardous weather (including hurricanes, high winds, tornadoes, floods, blizzards, freezing rain and droughts) and its effects on humans and the land;
  • identify instruments used by meteorologists and use simple weather instruments to measure air temperature and wind speed and direction;
  • understand that there are patterns to weather as well as patterns to sea-sons;
  • recognize that the Earth has different climates (e.g., arid, tropical, temperate and arctic); and
  • describe the sun as the source of energy that causes weather to change.

Grades 5 - 8

Educational experiences in Grades 5 - 8 will assure that students:

  • describe air as a mixture of gases, including water vapor and other liquid and solid particles;
  • recognize that air exerts pressure and expands and contracts in relation to temperature;
  • explain wind as a function of the unequal heating of the Earth’s surface;
  • know that water changes form as a function of energy transfer;
  • infer that water vapor condenses out of cooling air;
  • create simple weather instruments to measure air pressure and humidity;
  • identify sources of thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes and winter storms, and describe their impact on human activities;
  • infer that our atmosphere is dynamic and has pat-terns of weather systems;
  • recognize that high pressure areas are usually associated with clear, dry weather and low pressure areas are often associated with precipitation; and
  • describe and explain the reasons for the distribution of climates around the world.

Grades 9 - 12

Educational experiences in Grades 9 - 12 will assure that students:

  • describe heat and energy transfer as they are related to radiation, conduction and convection/advection;
  • understand that, as water condenses, evaporates, melts or freezes, this heat energy transfer impacts weather phenomena;
    recognize and understand why rising air expands and decreases in temperature, while sinking air compresses and increases in temperature, and that this phenomenon has an impact on local weather and global climates;
  • describe fronts as boundaries between air masses and recognize their association with different weather patterns;
  • explain the patterns and distributions of different climates as a function of the Earth’s physical features (e.g., oceans and mountains) and latitude;
  • explain how the inclination of the Earth’s axis affects the seasons, amount of daylight, and the altitude of the sun in the sky;
  • explain the impact on human activities of global phenomena, such as El Niño, global warming and the depletion of ozone in the atmosphere;
  • discuss cyclone, hurricane, thunderstorm and tornado formation as both weather phenomena and vehicles for the transfer of heat energy; and
  • create weather forecasts from data collected from various sources, including classroom instruments, television, newspapers, NOAA radio and information from sources via computer and modem.


The following GEMS Guides address this Standard:

Environmental Detectives
Grades 5-8

Ocean Currents
Grades 5-8

Acid Rain
Grades 6-8

Convection: A current Event
Grades 6-8

River Cutters
Grades 6-8

Global Warming & the Greenhouse Effect
Grades 7-8

The Real Reasons for Seasons
Grades 6-8

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