As a recent transplant from the Gulf Coast of Mississippi to Northern California, I am fascinated by the science surrounding hurricanes. I suppose this interest in natural disasters will soon grow to include earthquakes and wild fires…more on that in a future post. Living in southern Mississippi, I saw the lingering aftermath of the powerful storms that can make landfall and devastate entire regions. The most interesting thing about hurricanes to me is the science behind the predictions of where the storm will make landfall and how strong it will be. Unlike many other weather events, people have a lot of warning before a hurricane reaches land. Meteorologists use all kinds of different skills and tools to make these predictions as accurate as possible. No matter where you live, you can harness your students’ interest in these weather phenomenons to teach many aspects of science and math. Let them become amateur meteorologists to really gain an understanding of these storms.
There is some great information available on the web for teachers wanting to explore hurricanes in the classroom. The Weather Wise Kids site has a good overview of hurricanes and the science behind them. It uses kid-friendly language and graphics, so it shouldn’t be too overwhelming for younger kids. I also really liked the lesson plans she included at the end, many of which are already catalogued on The Gateway as well. These activities, including an online hurricane creation simulation, a tool to “aim” a hurricane using weather conditions, and a reading comprehension activity would work great along with the activities Joann suggested in her post. My favorite science demonstration they suggested can help you introduce the concept of air pressure to your students. If you can get your hands on a glass bottle with an opening big enough for a hard boiled egg to almost fit in, you are all set. You HAVE to try this one, its fun! If you haven’t seen the experiment before, you can get a basic idea by watching this news clip from TeacherTube.
A lot of the science behind tracking hurricanes and predicting their paths comes from the data collected by the Hurricane Hunters , an Air Force Reserve squadron based at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi. Their website is very informative for kids and adults interested in how they fly into hurricanes and other storms to collect important weather readings. One of my favorite parts of the site is their Hurricane Hunters Cyberflight, where you can see what happens during a typical mission into a storm.
If you are looking for other links and information about hurricanes, Weather Underground is a great place to start. I spent a fair amount of time on the site during the hurricane seasons, tracking tropical storms and hurricanes as they made their way across the ocean. They have a huge collection of online links including storm footage, blogs, historical storm data, and much more. If you do one of the storm surge activities Joann recommended in her post, I highly recommend that you show your students what a storm surge has done in past hurricanes. This is a really complete blog on Weather Underground that details the storm surge destruction all along the gulf coast during Katrina. I choose this particular post because the author includes some video footage of the storm surge during Katrina and lots of pictures of the destruction.
Last but not least, search for the keyword hurricane on The Gateway. If you haven’t found a hurricane activity that will work for you in Joann’s or my post, you should be able to find one that meets your needs with a simple search of the site. Don’t forget that we have a new state standards suggestion tool. Once you find a lesson you like, click on the green “View, share, comment” button below the description of the activity. At the bottom of the detailed description, you will be prompted to enter your state, subject, and grade level. When you click on the “Suggest Standards” button, you will get a list of standards that you can cover with that activity. It’s that easy! After you try the tool, we would love if you would take the short survey to see how we can make it more useful for teachers.
Let a fun and educational hurricane activity push your students out of a rut in their science and math studies this month! I hope you are able to spark some new interest in the science of weather. It’s going on all around us.
~Peggy's Corner - 9/25/2010~