Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Mighty Wind

A confession: I’m sort of a weather junkie.

Much to the annoyance of my children, I can happily watch The Weather Channel for hours on end.

“It’s the same thing over and over,” says my son. “It’s boring.”

“They’re not even showing our weather!” my daughter splutters. I tell her that even though we’re not presently in Barcelona, I still care about their weather.

I’m not exactly sure why I like watching weather-related events so much, but I do. Maybe it’s a reminder that, even in the 21st century where we’ve bent so many aspects of the natural world to our collective human will, the forces of nature remain a power that can’t always be controlled despite our best efforts. It truly is bigger than us.

It’s currently hurricane season, which in the Atlantic lasts from June 1 through November 30. In the Eastern Pacific, the season starts a bit earlier, on May 15. The term “hurricane” is actually a regional term given to tropical cyclones that occur in the Atlantic, the Northeast Pacific, and the Southeast Pacific oceans. The term “typhoon” is given to those tropical cyclones that occur in the Northwest Pacific, while “tropical cyclone” is used for just about everywhere else. They are mighty storms, born from a recipe of warm ocean water, warm moist air, and areas of low air pressure. To be classified as a hurricane, the storm must have winds of at least 74 miles per hour, while the strongest storms – Category 5 hurricanes – have winds that reach 156 miles per hour and above.

Hurricanes can obviously wreak terrible destruction; New Orleans and other areas affected by Hurricane Katrina five years ago are still struggling to recover from the devastation. Fortunately, most hurricanes are more benign storms, and understanding the science behind them is a fascinating melding of earth science and physics. My picks this week all focus on hurricane resources, and we’ll be featuring many more lessons, activities, and information during the week on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

The Surge of the Storm
Subjects: Earth Science, Measurement, Meteorology, Physical sciences
Grade: 5-12
In this hands-on activity, students investigate how a hurricane’s storm surge affects the low-lying areas of coastal regions. Students determine the distance inland that the storm surge will reach and simulate the destructive force of a storm surge. This lesson was created by SEACOORA (Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association), which gathers coastal and ocean observing data and information in the Southeast United States. They offer lesson plans and activities, as well as tons of information about coastal areas and the ocean. Lessons are aligned to national education standards.

Researching Hurricanes with Technology
Subjects: Earth science, Meteorology, Physical sciences
Grade: 9-12
In this lesson, students learn about the formation, power, and history of hurricanes. The lesson also integrates Internet research and the use of several different types of technology. This lesson is offered by ALEX, a project of the Alabama Learning Exchange, an award-winning education portal that provides lesson plans, education-related podcasts, best practices, and Alabama professional development activities. Lessons are aligned to Alabama Content Standards.

Subjects: Earth science, Meteorology
Grade: 6-8
Students in this hands-on activity discover the effects of wind speed and water depth on the height of waves during a hurricane. The activity includes adaptations for older students, discussion questions, suggested readings and extension activities, a grading rubric, and more. This lesson is offered by Discovery Education, which provides digital resources to schools and homes with the goal of making educators more effective, increasing student achievement, and connecting classrooms and families to a world of learning. The activity is aligned to McREL standards.

~Joann's Picks - 9/25/2010~


Thanks for reading our blog! We are so glad you are joining in the discussion.