Header: Teachers and Parents Home

Lesson Overview

Weather is vital to a safe flight and up to date weather information is given to a pilot at the beginning of every flight. Certain terminology is used when describing cloud cover. The weather person at a local airport estimates the fraction of the sky that is covered by clouds then attaches the corresponding label before passing this information on to other airports. The operations agent is responsible for getting the weather information to the pilot. An understanding of simple fractions and estimation in needed to make accurate descriptions of cloud cover. In this activity students learn the 4 types of cloud cover, their fractional component and then assign the correct type of cloud cover to given samples of sky. Determination of cloud cover is done two ways, using a grid and estimating.

Time Allotment

50 minutes

NCTM Process Standards

NCTM Content Standards

Aeronautics Content


Prerequisite Skills



Pencil, paper, calculator, MathPad by IntelliTools

Group Activities

  1. Explore different weather sites on line and gather weather information from different cities around the country. Create a daily peek of the weather cross country by placing sky samples corresponding to cloud cover from each city and place these sky samples on a map of the United States.
  2. Explore sites on line or use other resource materials (e.g, interview an airline employee) to find out how pilots land if the sky is overcast and they cannot see the airport.
  3. Have students create their own sky samples with cloud cover. Students should then trade these samples with each other and provide estimation results for each others' samples. To check estimation, students should create their own grid layouts, different from the grid layout given in the activity.

Online Resources

These web pages offer information about weather. The first four are also included in a "Pie in the Sky: Weather Sites" page in the group activity:

WeatherNet - teacher and kid site

Weather Dude - great site for kids!

NBC4 WeatherNet4 - Really Cool!

McKinley Academy of Technology, Weather Report

Intellicast USA

Michigan State University Weather Browser

Universitiy of Michigan, The Weather Underground: Curriculum

Weather Network


How Things Work--Flight. Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Publishing, 1990

March, Carol. Choosing An Airline Career. Denver: Capri Publishing Company, 1992


CD-ROM Adventures in Flight - Addison Wesley

Go Back