Hurricane! cover

Hurricane!

Teaching 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 EBS trainers).


IDEAS, SUGGESTIONS, AND HELPFUL HINTS

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

  1. 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.
  2. Have students who have had hurricane experiences bring in pictures or share their stories with the class.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

  1. 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 classes.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Post hurricane data for each day at a central location in the classroom so students can access it each day when they come in.
  5. 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.
  6. Obtain information from AAA, FEMA, and NOAA.
  7. Inform your librarian or media specialist early about the unit, so that files, resources, maps, and information can be obtained and saved.
  8. The Rocky Hill Middle School home page contains useful hurricane links.
  9. 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 students.
  10. Bring in examples of real newspapers to show to your students. Show them the different sections, such as Metro, Style, etc.

ACTIVITY: DAILY WEATHER MAPS

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 maps.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Additional and more detailed weather information is available from several internet sites.
  8. Provide incentives/rewards for the most accurate forecasts but don't base grades on the accuracy.
  9. 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 Hurricane.

ACTIVITY: WHERE DO HURRICANES FORM?

  1. 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 for homework.
  2. 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

  1. 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."
  1. If you try to use the tracking chart found in the student text, the first few days cannot be plotted.
  2. Be sure to have students label their points by day and AM/PM.
  3. Review the wind circulation around highs and lows, and the different kinds of fronts, before introducing day-eight data.
  4. 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 charts.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 AWAY

  1. 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.
  2. Measure and compare cooling rates of different surfaces by turning off the light and continuing to measure temperatures.

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.

  1. Allow students to investigate variations: more or less ice, different water temperatures, different amounts of smoke particles or no smoke particles.
  2. 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.
  3. Do not give matches to students. Have one or two candles at the front of the classroom for students to light wood splints.
  4. 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.
  5. Ice can usually be obtained from the ice machine in the school cafeteria.
Copyright ©2002 Event-Based Science Project


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