- Grade level: Upper Elementary, Middle School.
- Subject Area: Science, Language Arts.
The Severe Weather Patterns unit consists of a series of related lessons that form a comprehensive study of dangerous weather patterns in the United States. The Internet provides a wealth of resources on weather, including sites dedicated to tornadoes, hurricanes, and other severe weather patterns. Students visit these sites and research severe weather phenomrna of interest to them. As part of this unit, local weather data is collected daily and posted to a collaborative weather site on the Web, and the students develop (or review) a severe weather action plan for their school.
- Conduct research on specific severe weather patterns of interest and collect data to be shared with other students on these phenomona.
- Write (or review) a severe weather action plan for the school.
- Present their findings to the whole class on a severe weather awareness day.
Materials and Resources
In developing our lessons and activities, we made some assumptions about the hardware and software that would be available in the classroom for teachers who visit the LETSNet Website. We assume that teachers using our Internet-based lessons or activities have a computer (PC or Macintosh) with the necessary hardware components (mouse, keyboard, and monitor) as well as software (operating system, TCP/IP software, networking or dial-up software, e-mail and a World Wide Web client program, preferably Netscape, but perhaps Mosaic or Lynx). In the section below, we specify any "special" hardware or software requirements for a lesson or activity (in addition to those described above) and the level of Internet access required to do the activity.
- Special hardware requirements: None.
- Special software requirements: None.
- Internet access: Medium-speed (28,000 BPS via modem) or High-speed (greater than 1 MBPS via network).
Unit Lesson Plans
- Lesson One: Introduction to Severe Weather Patterns. This lesson uses traditional and/or on-line resources to introduce students to basic weather terminology and background information on wind, storms, clouds, rain, etc. As part of this lesson, students learn how the basic weather measurements (temperature, humidity, and air pressure) are used by meteorologists to predict weather patterns from models of atmospheric change.
- Lesson Two: Choose a Severe Weather Pattern. Students select a specific severe weather pattern to research based on their interests such as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, lightening, and hail.
- Lesson Three: Writing and editing a research report on severe weather. Following their research, students write and peer edit reports on the severe weather they selected in Lesson Two. Students are encouraged to read and make suggestions for improving reports of students who pursue different severe weather patterns.
- Lesson Four: Develop (or review) a severe weather action plan for the school. If the school has an existing severe weather action plan, students read copies and discuss how the plan can be used in a real weather emergency. If no such plan exists, students develop, write, and present an action plan to the school principal based on their research.
- Lesson Five: Presentation to the Class/School. Following the first five lessons, a special severe weather awareness day is planned where students present their research reports, along with their action plan and any other associated products (models, Web-pages, etc.) to the rest of the class/school.
- Lesson Six: (optional) Discussion of severe weather and the Greenhouse Effect. A whole-class discussion of the possible impact of the Greenhouse effect on recent severe weather patterns can encourage students to consider how local weather patterns are driven by larger, global warming and air movement systems. This can be connected or integrated with a related unit on global warming and the Greenhouse effect.
Relation to Standards
The Severe Weather Pattern unit contains activities that encourage and support student learning about science, especially weather and global environmental patterns. In developing these lessons, we have considered the science standards of the National Research Council and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as relevant language arts and writing standards in creating our Relation to Standards page.
One Computer versus Many
The plans for this unit are tailored to fit teaching situations where students have access to several computers with an Internet connection. To accommodate classrooms that do not have access to a computer lab with full Internet connections, students can work in research groups to explore Internet sites and conduct their research.
If you have only one computer with Internet access, you may choose to do one of the following:
- If you have the technology, you may hook-up the computer to a TV monitor or LCD projector. This will allow the whole class to see sites in the preliminary stages when students are exploring sites created by other children.
- You may choose to have students rotate through computer with Internet access in groups.
- You may also download files from the Internet and save them on a disk. Now you can transfer the files you saved on a disk to the other non-Internet computers. Installing copies of your Web browser on all non-Internet computers will allow you to view the pages you saved to a disk. This will not allow students to explore hyper-links, but they will be able to access and view the information by opening each file with the Web browser.