Springtime is an ideal time to study the weather. Here is a book full of experiments to help students understand the principles of meteorology. Gilbert Weather Bureau (Meteorology) for Boys by A. C. Gilbert is a free (public domain) eBook and introduction to all things weather (for boys and girls, of course).
Who Was A. C. Gilbert?
First a note about that title. A. C. Gilbert was a very interesting individual whose work you have probably heard of even if you don’t recognize the name. Among Mr. Gilbert’s interests and accomplishments:
- Athlete (won the 1908 Olympic Gold Medal in pole vault).
- Completed medical school at Yale.
- Developer of the Erector Set.
- Saved Christmas.
About that last one. In World War I, the Counsel of National Defense asked Gilbert to make munitions instead of toys and eventually cancel Christmas gift giving. By bringing toys to Washington, he convinced Washington that America needed scientists and engineers, and that the best way to promote that was to let young people play with what we today would term STEM toys. He won his case.
Among Mr. Gilbert’s vast accomplishments were books aimed at young people (boys in that day) to interest them in magic, chemistry, hydraulics, knot-tying, magnetism, and … weather.
After you have carried out the simple experiments described, and have read this text, whether you have a scientific trend of mind or not, you will at least learn that the weather is a science, like electricity, chemistry, or medicine; that its laws are uniform, constant, and unchanging, and there is really nothing mysterious about it. The weather man is a scientist and by means of instruments, which indicate certain things, he comes to definite conclusions. He is not a prophet; he does not prophesy; he forecasts.
Gilbert’s study of weather begins with understanding the properties of air. He then moves into weather topics including:
- Atmospheric pressure.
He then pulls all of these topics together to explain their indications.
The book contains 11 experiments — some you may be OK with and some … maybe not. For those, reading and discussing the principles may suffice.
If the young person wanted to purchase a kit, all the better. But the kit, of course, is no longer available. No worries. The book stands on its own. (We provide an alternative suggestion below.)
Thames & Kosmos Climate and Weather Science Kit
We have had great luck with kits from this company!
The National Weather Service History
A. C. Gilbert
Background on the author.
A. C. Gilbert
Bio from MIT.