The 3D Printing the Weather Project and accompanying education resources is a collaboration between the Royal Meteorological Society and CREATE Education. The project takes the complete Central England Temperature Data Set from January 1659 to December 2019 and allows students to develop a series of 3D models to represent the data. The models can then be used to study the weather, climate and climate change.

With COP26 approaching, Phil Humphreys, Head of Geography at Wychwood School embarked upon a project with Year 8 students in the Summer term on 2021 to design and 3D print the entire data set to allow students to investigate and learn about climate change. In this guest blog, Phil shares his experiences.

‘How has temperature changed over time?’

‘Just how warmer has it got?’

‘How can I see this?’

When introducing an abstract but fundamental topic to Students, one is often beset with questions. The topic of Climate Change is no different. 

It often helps if Students can visualise these concepts. There has been some work done to make the concept of temperature change over time appear more visual. In his work on Climate Stripes, Ed Hawkins uses colour to reflect temperature change over time.

This project, run in conjunction with both CREATE Education and the Royal Meteorological Society allowed the Students to produce 3D printed decadal blocks of mean monthly temperature. Models that they can slot together, that they can play with and actually see change. 

3D printing the first 10 year data model

Using the Central England Temperature Record, the longest instrument record of temperature in the world, with average monthly temperature each month from January 1659 to December 2018 – the students were able, using Tinkercad 3D modelling software to manipulate the figures into decadal blocks. These were then printed out using a 3D printer, loaned by CREATE Education to produce a tactile resource that can be used in multiple ways in the classroom allowing the Students to actually visualise and study past weather and climate.

Students learning Tinkercad

The project was straightforward for the pupils to get to grips with. The data, grouped in a spreadsheet was already manipulated in such a way that the totals given corresponded to the heights of the bars needed to be produced in Tinkercad. Once the Students had got to grips with Tinkercad, the bars were easily produced and fitted onto the base plate that had been provided. Clear video tutorials explaining everything in a step-by-step fashion produced by the team at CREATE Education also meant that the whole task was painless.

These models provided a talking point from the start. We were able to discuss the issues raised from the Temperature Record. The pupils were then able to see the results transformed from a spreadsheet into a 3D model, thus allowing them to have a different view of temperature change, being able to see the changes more clearly.

The complete 3D printed Central England Temperature Record.
Data models with a green current climate model for studying climate change.

CREATE Education would like to thank Phil Humphreys for sharing his experiences of the 3D Printing the weather project with us along with all of the Wychwood School students’ 3D model files. These have been 3D printed and displayed in the Green Zone at COP26 for visitors to see in person.

The resource has also been updated to include copies of all the 3D model files so schools who cannot dedicate curriculum time to designing the models can 3D print a set for themselves.

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