The Living Edens-Etosha: Classroom Resources
Do the Elephants Need Sunscreen? A Study of the Weather Patterns in Etosha

Lesson Objectives
Related National Standards
Tools and Materials Needed
Estimated Time to Complete Lesson
Teaching Strategy
Helpful Web Sites
Assessment Recommendations

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this activity, students will:

1) generate a graph of the yearly temperature and precipitation pattern in Namibia.

2) explore the weather information available on the Internet.

3) demonstrate an understanding of the yearly weather cycle of Etosha.

4) collect and graph current weather data for the Etosha area. Related National Standards Science.

Related National Standards


1) Understands that mathematicians often represent real things using abstract ideas like numbers or lines. Students then work with these abstractions to learn what they represent.

2) Understands that numbers and the operations performed on them can be used to describe things in the real world and predict what might occur.

3) Organizes and displays data using tables, graphs, frequency distributions and plots.


1) Knows how life is adapted to conditions on the Earth.

2) Knows the processes involved in the water cycle and their effects on climatic patterns.

3) Uses appropriate tools (including computer hardware and software) and techniques to gather, analyze and interpret scientific data.

Tools and Materials Needed

1) graph paper, preferably centimeter grid


A printable page of the chart is available.

2) computer with connection to the Internet

3) political map of Namibia

Estimated Time to Complete Lesson

Data collection and construction of the yearly graph can be completed in one class period if students have the requisite skills in graphing. The data charting and graphing of current Etosha temperatures and precipitation can run from several days to a month.

Teaching Strategy

Background Information:

Etosha National Park is a large, generally flat, reserve in northwestern Namibia. It has an area of 22,270 square km (13,838 sq mi) and an elevation of about 1,030 m (3,400 feet). The plateau extends into Angola to the north and Botswana to the east.

The weather in this vast area remains surprisingly constant, with only slight variations from town to town. While there are no weather monitoring sites on the Internet for Etosha National Park itself, there are a number of close sites that make available both average monthly data and daily weather reports, usually in metric units. Several small cities found within a 100 km (50 mile) radius of the park have a similar altitude and will have similar weather. Comparison of the data will show a consistency in the readings on all sides of the park, and conditions can be generalized to the park itself. The best readings will come from the town of Otjiwarongo though the readings from Windhoek vary only slightly. Once the sites are identified, placing a bookmark to the site on your browser will allow a quick return to obtain daily data.

These readings can be charted and graphed to help students understand the yearly temperature and precipitation cycles shown in the arid region of the Living Edens video. The temperature data is relational and a line graph should be used. The precipitation and days with precipitation data are not relational, and a bar graph should be used. Daily weather descriptions can be placed on a chart.

The sites give readings in a mixture of English and metric units, which requires the students to analyze the information that is available and convert units where needed.


1) Before viewing the Etosha video, discuss the concept that the film shows a complete yearly cycle of the animals and the climatic pattern. Use the film to emphasize the sections showing the large water hole, the dried water hole, the dusty period where the water has dried to mud, the section showing mud cracks forming, and the inland sea. Have the students write a short description of the yearly weather cycle giving as much detail as possible.

2) Have the students use Internet search tools to find data relating to the weather of Etosha National Park. When exact reading for the park can not be found, have the students expand the search for weather data relating to the country of Namibia.

3) Have the students locate the cities with weather data on a map of Namibia. Examine a physical map of the country to determine the data that most closely matches conditions in the interior of the park. Label the map with the current temperatures and look for the variations at the coast and in the interior. Pick the city or cities that best represent the weather conditions for the park. Some classes may elect to use more than one city and average the data.

4) Have students start a graph and chart where the daily data from the area is recorded. Once started, one student can obtain the data for the day from the Internet, and record it in the room for the rest of the students.

5) Have the students make graphs of the average yearly data of the area. One graph can be made for high temperature, low temperature, days with precipitation, and humidity or multiple graphs can be combined on one sheet. The student should provide a written interpretation of the graph.

6) Compare the weather and climate of Etosha to the weather patterns found in your country either verbally or in written form.

Helpful Web Sites

Yahoo Weather

Weekly forecast for Windhoek, Namibia. Includes highs, lows, precipitation and satellite.

Weather Post

Produced by the Washington Post, this site features daily forecasts for selected cities with links to Namibia news.

Weather Underground

This site has current weather readings that include temperature, humidity, barometric pressure and conditions.

Assessment Recommendations

Evaluate the descriptive paragraph with a rubric of your design. The charts and graphs should be evaluated on completeness. A generalization paragraph should accompany each of the graphs that explain and interpret the data.


1. Younger students can chart and graph the temperature data of both Etosha and their school as a group.

2. Using the data provided at the Namibia Weather Forecast site, students can draw temperature contours for the country of Namibia. Discuss the physical features of the land and how they contribute to the temperature differentials.

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