By Lani deGuia, Guest Blogger and Curriki Member
The United States and the Caribbean have recently been hit with two of the most devastating hurricanes in history. Hurricane Harvey battered Houston and surrounding areas with 30-51 inches of rainfall, damaging more than 185,000 homes and destroying 9,000. More than 30,000 people were displaced, 69 died, and hundreds of thousands lost electricity.
In the second part of a one-two punch, Hurricane Irma traveled across the Caribbean islands and then barreled up the entire state of Florida, starting as Category 5 hurricane with 175 mph winds speeds. About 6.5 million people were under mandatory and voluntary evacuation. Bringing potential storm surge of up to 15 feet, tornadoes, and a storm span the size of Texas, the damage is still being assessed.
Because these major natural disasters have been at the forefront of our nation’s concern, your students may have questions. We’ve curated some of Curriki’s top resources to help students explore hurricanes as a significant weather phenomenon.
September is National Preparedness Month
This month is actually National Preparedness Month with the theme “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.” Since its inception in 2004, National Preparedness Month is observed each September in the USA< sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Preparedness Month encourages Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, schools and communities.
Young students can check out FEMA for Kids, where the Federal Emergency Management Agency educates children about natural disasters and how kids can help prevent damage. The website features educational materials on the causes of catastrophes such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes.
FEMA’s resources include an emergency preparedness video and recommendations on building a disaster supply kit. FEMA’s Mapping Information Platform is an interactive mapping tool which enables visitors to generate a map of their area of interest simply by entering a zip code or city name.
The National Hurricane Survival Initiative was created after the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The site includes a storm readiness checklist, a hurricane questionnaire and basic hurricane evacuation procedures. The “Storms Stats” area provides a primer on what exactly hurricanes are, along with concise summaries of the wind and water damage that hurricanes can inflict.
For Elementary Level Storm Trackers
Wonderopolis offers What is a Hurricane? where it discusses how hurricanes create vicious winds, torrential rains and flooding.
Hurricanes is a collection of Science NetLinks lessons and resources to help learn more about hurricanes, wind and other weather.
Hurricane Tracking and Weather Prediction is a lesson plan that requires Stormpulse software. By following hurricane patterns, students will become more familiar with weather terminology and forecasts.
For Older Budding Meterologists
Earth Labs-Putting Hurricanes on the Calendar is a laboratory experiment where students explore NOAA’s official record of tropical storms and hurricanes, then import the data into a spreadsheet to generate a frequency histogram that they use to identify the dates of hurricane season.
Hurricanes Unit is a series of Labs that explore the formation and impact of hurricanes.
Hurricanes: The Greatest Storms on Earth is a NASA website that contains information about hurricanes and describes how they form, intensify and then weaken. The site explains the physics of hurricane formation and also the chain reaction that intensifies hurricane so rapidly. Images, diagrams, and charts provide supplementary material.
Severe Weather: Hurricanes! is a problem-based learning activity where students study the action of a previous hurricane (Hurricane Andrew, 1992) in preparation for analyzing, tracking and predicting landfall of the next hurricane to hit the United States during the school year. This module is part of Exploring the Environment.
SEACOOS: Virtual Hurricane Classroom is a collection of resources on hurricanes that includes a selection of activities in which students investigate storm surge, learn hurricane terminology, build and use their own weather instruments, and learn how to locate and plot points on a map using latitude and longitude.
In Community Lost: The State, Civil Society, and Displaced Survivors of Hurricane Katrina, the authors use extensive interviews with Katrina evacuees and reports from service providers to identify what helped or hindered the reestablishment of the lives of hurricane survivors who relocated to Austin, Texas.
What Could A Hurricane Do To My Home? has students investigate whether global climate change will intensify the effects of hurricanes on coastal communities by determining the areas most vulnerable to hurricane surges by using topographic maps, a physical model, and a time series of hurricane data.
What Does “Category 4” Mean? The Safir-Simpson Scale helps answer this question through a flash animation on The Associated Press website that shows the typical damage done by each of the five levels of hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. It shows the combined effect of the winds and the storm surge on buildings and trees in the hurricane’s path.
Here at Curriki, we extend our thoughts and support for all those impacted by the recent hurricanes and storms. Stay safe!
Lani deGuia is a Norfolk, VA-based Educational Consultant with experience writing and developing curriculum and managing school technology.