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Wonders Of WeatherWonders-Of-Weather

  • Subject:
  • |
  • Grade(s): 6-8
  • |
  • Duration: Two class periods

Lesson Plan Sections

Objectives


Students will understand the following:
1. A tornado is a vortex.
2. A vortex is a spiral motion of fluid that sucks everything near it toward its center.
3. In the case of a tornado, the fluid is air.
4. A thunderstorm may draw up air from the ground, creating unstable combinations of rising and falling air and resulting in a violent rotating storm. If the storm touches the ground, a tornado is born.
5. A tornado can cause devastating damage.

Materials


Students will need research materials on tornadoes, including a computer with Internet access. Each group will need the following materials:
Plastic bottle with cover
Water
Salt
Teaspoon
Liquid detergent
Food coloring
Small plastic objects, such as tiny houses from a popular board game

Procedures


1. Review with your students what they have learned about storms in general. Have them research tornadoes to find out what they are, how they begin, and the sort of damage they can cause. Students should acquire the following background information before beginning the activity:
  1. A thunderstorm may draw up air from the ground, creating unstable combinations of rising and falling air and resulting in a violent rotating storm. If the storm touches the ground, it becomes a tornado.
  2. A tornado can cause extensive and devastating damage.
2. Further explain to students that a tornado is a vortex , or spiral motion of fluid. In the case of a tornado, the fluid is air. (You may have to explain that, while we usually think of air as a combination of gases, gases and fluids are very similar with regard to the way they move, or flow.)
3. Tell students they are going to make a "tornado" in a bottle. Divide the class into groups, and provide each group with the materials listed previously.
4. Give students the following instructions:
  1. Fill the bottle with water to 1 inch (3 centimeters) from the top.
  2. Add a teaspoon of salt.
  3. Cover the bottle, and shake it until the salt is dissolved.
  4. Add a drop of liquid detergent.
  5. Add a drop of food coloring.
  6. Cover the bottle tightly and move the bottle in a swirling motion.
5. To demonstrate the destructive potential of tornadoes, have students place small plastic objects, such as tiny houses from a popular board game, in the bottle, swirl, and observe what happens to the objects.
6. To make sure students understand the relationship between the model tornado they have made and a real tornado, ask them what the water in the bottle represents. They should know that the water in the bottle represents swirling currents of air in a real storm.
7. Have each student use what he or she has learned from research and from the project to write a brief description of a real tornado, including an explanation of its causes and effects.

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Adaptations


Instead of making "bottle tornadoes," have students concentrate their energies on researching the causes and effects of tornadoes. Each student might write about an actual tornado in history, describing its effects on the local population.

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Discussion Questions


1. Discuss the nature of seasons. Why does the Earth experience seasonal change? Explain why the Northern Hemisphere experiences winter while the Southern Hemisphere experiences summer.
2. Discuss the tools used by meteorologists to make accurate predictions about the weather.
3. Discuss the effects of air pressure on the human body. Why does air pressure have to be regulated in airplanes and submarines?
4. Discuss how a hurricane travels across Africa and moves west toward the United States. Where does it get its strength to travel so far and with so much force?
5. Discuss disaster relief efforts for hurricane victims. Are there volunteer opportunities in your community to assist in the event of a disaster?
6. Discuss how a vacuum cleaner simulates a tornado. How is it like a real tornado?
7. Discuss the destructive forces on a house caused by a tornado.
8. Discuss what to do in the event of a tornado. Make a tornado plan for your house and family. What precautions should you take in the event of a tornado warning?
9. Describe hail and explain why it doesn't fall during every thunderstorm.
10. In 1815 there was a volcanic eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia. The following year, the United States experienced snow and killing frost in July! Discuss how this could happen.

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Evaluation


You can evaluate your students on their descriptions and explanations using the following three-point rubric:
 
Three points: accurate description; complete and correct account of causes and effects; writing clear and error-free
 
Two points: accurate description; incomplete and/or partially incorrect account of causes and effects; writing mostly clear with some errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics
 
One point: description contains inaccuracies; incomplete and/or incorrect account of causes and effects; writing lacking in clarity; numerous errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics
 
You can ask your students to contribute to the assessment rubric by determining the basic causes of a tornado that students should list.

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Extensions


Weather Lore Day
Have a "weather lore" day. Ask students to explore weather lore of different cultures in history. Each student can present to the class a favorite example of weather lore in the form of a story, poem, or pictures.

And the High for Today Is . . .
Each day for a month, cut out the daily weather map from a newspaper, and bring it to school. Have your class graph the average daily temperatures, precipitation, and sky conditions for the month. Every day let a different student interpret the daily weather map and give a weather report to the class. After tracking the weather for a month, have groups of students predict the weather for the coming week.

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Suggested Readings


Weather and People
Michael D. Morgan, Joseph M. Moran, Prentice Hall, 1997
How climate influences human behavior and decision-making is the topic covered in this illustrated work.

A World of Weather: Fundamentals of Meteorology
Jon M. Nese [et al.], Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1996
A recommended textbook for more senior students who wish to explore the possibility of meteorology as a career option.

The Handy Weather Answer Book
Walter A. Lyons, Visible Ink Press, 1997
Four hundred pages of a wide range of weather-related questions and their answers are covered in this illustrated text, which includes bibliographies.

Weather
William J. Burroughs [et al.], Time-Life Books, 1996
This volume of the publisher's "Nature Company Guides" series offers colored illustrations and maps to instruct the reader in this broad overview of weather phenomena.

Weather Wisdom: Proverbs, Superstitions, and Signs
Stewart A. Kingsbury, Mildred E. Kingsbury, and Wolfgang Mieder, Peter Lang, 1996
Humans in every culture in every age have interpreted aspects of the weather in non-scientific ways. This volume explores the international folklore of weather.

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Links


EBS TORNADO!
EBS TORNADO! links page.

HURRICANE!
EBS HURRICANE! links page.

Current Weather and Products—NWS
Current weather, forecasts, satellite data, radar, regional forecasts, etc. Basically everything about current weather just about anywhere.

Severe Storms—FACTS, WARNINGS AND PROTECTION
Bureau of Meteorology, Australia Severe Storms is an excellent page for general information about severe storms, effects and procedures.

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Vocabulary


Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.

speaker    weather
Definition: The state of the atmosphere at a given time and place, with respect to variables such as temperature, moisture, wind velocity, and barometric pressure.
Context: Weather is simply the condition of the air around us.

speaker    Fahrenheit
Definition: Of or relating to a temperature scale that registers the freezing point of water as 32?F and the boiling point as 212?F at one atmosphere of pressure. [After Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit.]
Context: Fahrenheit is the common scale for the United States, but all other countries use the Celsius scale.

speaker    Celsius
Definition: Of or relating to a temperature scale that registers the freezing point of water as 0? and the boiling point as 100? under normal atmospheric pressure. [After Anders Celsius.]
Context: Fahrenheit is the common scale for the United States, but all other countries use the Celsius scale.

speaker    jet stream
Definition: A high-speed, meandering wind current, generally moving from a westerly direction at speeds often exceeding 400 kilometers (250 miles) per hour at altitudes of 15 to 25 kilometers (10 to 15 miles).
Context: Seen from space these clouds mark the path of a jet stream.

speaker    trade winds
Definition: Winds moving from the north or south toward the equator; so named because the early traders used these winds to sail to America from Europe.
Context: This is called the Coriolis effect and these winds are called trade winds.

speaker    temperate
Definition: Characterized by moderate temperatures, weather, or climate; neither hot nor cold.
Context: In the middle of each hemisphere, squeezed between the tropical heat of the Hadley cells and the chilling cold of the polar cells, is the temperate zone.

speaker    dew point
Definition: The temperature at which air becomes saturated and produces dew.
Context: The temperature at which the air becomes saturated is called the dew point.

speaker    hurricane
Definition: A severe tropical cyclone originating in the equatorial regions of the Atlantic Ocean or Caribbean Sea, traveling north, northwest, or northeast from its point of origin, and usually involving heavy rains; a wind with a speed greater than 74 miles (119 km) per hour.
Context: Mother Nature has unleashed a hurricane.

speaker    storm surge
Definition: Domes of water produced by the action of cyclonic winds during a hurricane, in which the sea level can be up to five meters higher than normal.
Context: This dangerous effect is called the storm surge.

speaker    funnel cloud
Definition: A spiral shaped cloud that emerges from the base of a thunder cloud; it contains winds that are rotating violently.
Context: This twirling air can form a funnel cloud.

speaker    vortex
Definition: A spiral motion of fluid within a limited area, especially a whirling mass of water or air that sucks everything near it toward its center.
Context: Starting in 1991, the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma conducted the Vortex project.

speaker    sandstorm
Definition: A strong wind carrying clouds of sand and dust through the air.
Context: The Sahara has about 30 sandstorms a year.

speaker    supercell
Definition: Turbulent thunder clouds with strong updrafts of wind.
Context: A hailstorm begins when heat rising from the ground forms supercells.

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Standards


This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
 
Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: science
Standard:
Understands basic features of the Earth.
Benchmarks:
Knows that because of the tilt of the Earth's axis, sunlight and, hence, heat fall more intensely on one part or another of the Earth during its one-year revolution around the Sun; the difference in heating of the Earth's surface produces the planet's seasons and weather patterns.

Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: science
Standard:
Understands basic features of the Earth.
Benchmarks:
Knows that the Earth's climate sometimes changes radically in response to the effects of geological shifts (e.g., the advance or retreat of glaciers over centuries, a series of huge volcanic eruptions in a short time).

Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: science
Standard:
Understands the interactions of science, technology and society.
Benchmarks:
Knows that technology is essential to science because it enables observations of phenomena that are far beyond the capabilities of scientists due to factors such as distance, location, size and speed.

Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: science
Standard:
Understands basic features of the Earth.
Benchmarks:
Knows that weather (in the short run) and climate (in the long run) involve the transfer of energy in and out of the atmosphere.

Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: science
Standard:
Understands basic features of the Earth.
Benchmarks:
Knows that solar radiation heats the land masses, oceans and air, and that transfer of heat energy at the boundaries (between the atmosphere, the land masses and the oceans) results in layers at different temperatures and densities in both the ocean and atmosphere; the action of gravitational force on layers of different densities causes them to rise or fall, and such circulation (influenced by the rotation of the Earth) produces winds and ocean currents.

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Credit


Frank Weisel, science teacher, Tilden Middle School, Rockville, Maryland.

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