Christmas Island (more properly called Kiritimati) lies near the Equator in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It was discovered in 1777 on Christmas Eve by Captain James Cook. The Island served as a weather station and rest stop for planes traveling to the South Pacific during World War II and was the site of several nuclear bomb tests in the 1960s. Not only is the Island named for the Christmas holiday, but an adjustment to the International Date Line in 1995 means the island is now the first inhabited place on Earth to bring in the New Year.
The National Weather Service maintains a weather buoy off the coast of Christmas Island. For a quick activity, students can compare real-time weather data (i.e. air and water temperatures, wind speeds and presure) from Christmas Island with a second buoy closer to them. As an extension, students can choose several buoys from across the globe, looking at the differences in real-time data between each while trying to describe why those differences exist.