Teach PA History
Our Eye in the Sky: The TIROS Weather Satellite
What to Know
Teaching Time
2-50 minute lessons
Grade Level
High School
  • Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening
  • History
  • Science and Technology
Historical Period
  • Post-WWII Pennsylvania - 1946-1974
  • Contemporary Pennsylvania - 1975 to Present
The TIROS (Television and InfraRed Observation Satellite) weather satellite was the first successful weather satellite launched into space. It was manufactured in Bucks County, Pennsylvania by the Lavelle Aircraft Corporation and launched on April 1, 1960. This weather satellite provided 22, 952 images during its 77-days of operation and provided meteorologists the first experience of viewing the Earth's weather patterns from above its atmosphere! In addition to its incredible meteorological advancements, it was also used to create a calculated edge in the space race against Russia and China. Students will investigate this weather satellite's the political context under which it was created, the many uses its technology could provide, and the technological progress it has spawned since its historical mission. The culminating activity will be a writing assignment in which students will select an appropriate writing perspective, imagined audience, format, and topic to focus and demonstrate their concept mastery of TIROS impact on society.


Students will be able to: 1. Explain what triggered the production of the satellite. 2. List the political and scientific impacts the weather satellite had on life in 1960. 3. Compare and contrast TIROS I to modern day weather satellites. 4. Discover the different functions of a satellite. 5. Demonstrate through a writing assignment concept mastery of TIROS" impact on society.

Standards Alignment

  • History

    8.1.9. A. Analyze chronological thinking.
    8.1.12. B. Synthesize and evaluate historical sources.
    8.2.12. C. Identify and evaluate how continuity and change have influenced Pennsylvania history.
    8.3.12. C. Evaluate how continuity and change has influenced United States history from 1890 to Present.

  • Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening

    1.2.11. A. Read and understand essential content of informational texts and documents in all academic areas.
    1.4.11. A. Write short stories, poems, and plays.
    1.5.11. A. Write with a sharp, distinct focus.

  • Science and Technology

    3.5.10. C. Interpret meteorological data.
    3.8.12.C. Evaluate the consequences and impacts of scientific and technological solutions

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