Suggestions From the Field
Hurricane! is laid out in a
logical, tested sequence, but the following modifications have been
suggested by Vince Parada, Jay Foster, and Gene Molesky (certified
IDEAS, SUGGESTIONS, AND
These ideas, suggestions, and hints
were provided by participants and instructors in the Hurricane
session during the Montgomery County Public Schools, NSF Supported,
Science Connections Training, August 18-20, 1998.
ACTIVITY: THE HOOK
- Add supplemental discussion
questions that are immediately relevant to the students, such as:
Has your school ever been closed because of hurricane?, or Have
you ever been in a hurricane or other violent weather event? etc.
- Have students who have had
hurricane experiences bring in pictures or share their stories
with the class.
- If you have a recording
barometer, set it up at the start of the unit so that students can
see the daily & hourly relationship between atmospheric
pressure and weather conditions.
- Give students tagboard cards and
markers. Ask them to write their own how-or-why questions about
weather. Encourage students to decorate their questions with
designs and pictures. Post the pictures around the classroom.
Refer to these student questions throughout the unit.
ACTIVITY: THE TASK
- Use tagboard for the newspapers.
They will be more durable and can easily be laminated. Keep them
to show examples of past newspapers to students in future
- Maximum group size should be 6.
It is better to have more groups of fewer students. The role of
environmental scientist can be eliminated, or the meteorologist
& hurricane expert roles can be combined. Be sure to adjust
job descriptions and rubrics accordingly.
- Especially the first time you use
the unit, assign several cities that are affected by the same
hurricane. Using only one hurricane will minimize the amount
of data that has to be handed out.
- Post hurricane data for each day
at a central location in the classroom so students can access it
each day when they come in.
- Keep your own notebook with
ideas, changes, pitfalls, hints, etc. Refer to it from year to
year. Send your ideas to the Event-Based
Science Bulletin Board for
possible posting on this Web site.
- Obtain information from
- Inform your librarian or media
specialist early about the unit, so that files, resources, maps,
and information can be obtained and saved.
- The Rocky
Hill Middle School home
page contains useful hurricane links.
- Groups should have their own
corner to store their materials. Do not let the materials go out
of the room, so that they are available every day for the
- Bring in examples of real
newspapers to show to your students. Show them the different
sections, such as Metro, Style, etc.
ACTIVITY: DAILY WEATHER
- Even though this is not the first
activity in the student edition, it should be done first. The
Tracking a Hurricane activity (appearing first in the book) uses
weather map symbols and depends on students having some knowledge
of these symbols and their meanings, as well as a general
knowledge of weather systems.
- Be sure to save the weather data
for each day (high and low temperatures, local weather conditions,
etc.) as well as the weather maps themselves. The students need
this information to record in their weather charts.
- Instructions in the Hurricane
book tell students to use weather maps and data for their assigned
community. This is very difficult to do. Students should use
weather maps and data for their local community, so that they can
obtain the information from the local newspaper.
- Maps and data should be gathered
from Monday through Friday, and students should be asked to
forecast for Saturday and Sunday. Be sure to provide students with
copies of blank U.S. maps so that they can construct the weekend
- Display their posters on the
following Monday and give students the actual weather maps and
weather data for the weekend so that they can compare their
predictions with the actual weather.
- Be sure the students understand
that the activity has no real right answer, since the forecast
depends on many factors (upper air circulation, jet streams, waves
in the polar front, etc.) about which they had no information.
Student answers will probably be as accurate as possible based on
the limited data that was available to them.
- Additional and more detailed
weather information is available from several internet
- Provide incentives/rewards for
the most accurate forecasts but don't base grades on the
- Although the teacher's guide says
to start this activity on day eight of Tracking a
Hurricane, Tracking a Hurricane does not take eight
days to do. It really means to start the activity before you get
to the day-eight data. As noted below, it may be better to begin
Daily Weather Maps before beginningTracking a
ACTIVITY: WHERE DO HURRICANES
- This activity contains too many
points for one student to plot in class. As stated in the
teacher's guide, have students divide up the task so that two or
three students share in the plotting or have them do the plotting
- Some points will not fit if you
use the chart given in the student text. Obtain and use an
expanded hurricane tracking chart if you can find one.
ACTIVITY: TRACKING A HURRICANE
- Do not start with this activity,
even though it is first in the book. This activity requires a
knowledge of weather systems and map symbols. Also, it asks if
this hurricane started where most other hurricanes begin. This
requires that the students have done Where Do Hurricanes
Form?. Do Daily Weather Maps first, then Where Do
Hurricanes Form?, then this activity.
- NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: "I
DISAGREE WITH THIS IDEA. START WITH TRACKING A HURRICANE
THEN INTERRUPT IT, AND MOVE TO OTHER ACTIVITIES AS NEEDS
DEVELOP. CREATE A NEED FOR STUDENTS TO USE CONCEPTS AND SKILLS
BEFORE TEACHING THOSE CONCEPTS AND SKILLS."
- If you try to use the tracking
chart found in the student text, the first few days cannot be
- Be sure to have students label
their points by day and AM/PM.
- Review the wind circulation
around highs and lows, and the different kinds of fronts, before
introducing day-eight data.
- Global winds affect hurricane
movement. Before beginning the day-eight data analysis, discuss
the trade winds (0-30 N.) and the prevailing westerlies (30-60
N.), and have your students label these bands on their tracking
- Make a small, scale model of a
hurricane (200-400 miles in diameter) for the students to cut out
and move along the chart. This may help students in deciding areas
for watches and warnings.
- Be sure students understand the
criteria for a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning. This
information is given in the directions.
ACTIVITY: UP, UP, AND
- Thermometer readings are greatly
affected by direct radiant energy from the light bulbs and, if
exposed, will give misleading and erroneous readings. We found
that, if the thermometer is placed in the air over no surface, the
radiant energy from the light bulb can raise the temperature
reading on the thermometer by 7-10 degrees or more, depending on
the distance of the lamp from the thermometer. This often
overrides any differences in air temperature found over different
surfaces. The activity works much better if the bulb is not
exposed to the light. It is difficult, however, to shade the
thermometer bulb without also shading the materials being tested.
It works best if you place the thermometer bulb just under the
surface of the soil, sand, gravel, water, etc. This makes it
difficult to test some surfaces, like asphalt. An alternative
activity, which will only test albedo, is to place the thermometer
bulbs under strips of paper of different colors. This has been
tested and works quite well.
- Measure and compare cooling rates
of different surfaces by turning off the light and continuing to
ACTIVITY: CLOUD FORMATION (NOT IN
HURRICANE UNIT TEXT)
A demonstration or hands-on activity
on cloud formation may be inserted before, or used in place of, the
Local Moisture activity in the student text.
©2002 Event-Based Science Project
- Allow students to investigate
variations: more or less ice, different water temperatures,
different amounts of smoke particles or no smoke
- A simple way to make a cloud is
to use a liter or gallon bottle, ice to cool the air inside, a
little hot water, some smoke particles, and a bicycle pump to
lower the air pressure. Or use a flask, a one-hole stopper, and a
large syringe to accomplish the same task.
- Do not give matches to students.
Have one or two candles at the front of the classroom for students
to light wood splints.
- Hot tap water works fine. It is
only necessary to use burners or hot plates to heat the water if
your room does not have a hot water tap.
- Ice can usually be obtained from
the ice machine in the school cafeteria.
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Last updated on July 11, 2003