The Powerful Punch of a Hurricane

Centuries ago the Spanish named the storms that sunk their ships in the Caribbean Huracan, after the Mayan god of wind, storms, and fire. Whatever we call these tropical storms today – hurricanes, typhoons, or cyclones – we are amazed by their power to change or destroy habitats, damage property, and harm people. The National Science Education Standards say middle school students should understand the risks and challenges associated with hurricanes and other natural hazards.

National Hurricane Center: Tropical Prediction Center
At this web site, the National Weather Service provides up-to-date information on hurricanes.

NASA Hurricane Page
This site provides satellite images of developing hurricanes.

Hurricanes
In a series of activities, students graph real data on the wind speed, atmospheric pressure, and storm surge of seven hurricanes and trace the path of a hurricane in the year they were born. Students also hypothesize what would happen if a hurricane hit their city.

Towering Waves May Be Norm for Hurricanes
This NPR broadcast describes how science instruments on the bottom of the sea off the coast of Mississippi survived and collected the most comprehensive current and wave measurements ever of a category 4 storm.

NOVA: Stronger Hurricanes?
Is global warming making hurricanes more intense? In this slide show, we hear from scientists and examine their data.

We Need Your Help

We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 3/27/2012.

 

Science-Themed Days and Weeks

Days and weeks designated to recognize advances or current issues in science are often accompanied by web sites that can be useful to teachers and students year-round.

Sun-Earth Day – on or near the Spring Equinox
NASA maintains this site with lesson plans, space weather centers, stunning images, an online book about observers of the skies from stargazers to spacecraft, and many other features.

Solar Week – on or near the Spring EquinoxNSDL Annotation
By clicking on a day of the week, teachers will find background information and activities related to a specific sun topic. The Sun-Earth Media Viewer gives real-time images.

Earth Day – April 22NSDL Annotation
The Wilderness Society gives the history of Earth Day and lesson plans for grades 4-6. Other features are fact sheets on migratory birds and a slideshow of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

National Environmental Education Week – April 15-22NSDL Annotation
Environmental educators have developed a full week of K-12 preparation for Earth Day. Reducing energy use is the focus.

Lockheed Martin Space Day – May 6
Space-related activities are designed to interest young people in careers in science, math, engineering, and technology. Five lesson plans are tied to national standards.

World Ocean Day – June 8
Along with materials focused on World Ocean Day observances, the official site lists “cool links” to recordings of whale sounds, ecologically sound seafood choices, and conservation tips.

Earth Science Week – October 14-20NSDL Annotation
With the theme “The Pulse of Earth Science,” the American Geological Institute is taking stock of earth science education nationwide. Teachers will find a number of classroom activities.

We Need Your Help

We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. You can also request email notification when new content is posted (see right navigation bar).

Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We want your feedback on all of the NSDL Middle School PortalNSDL Annotation publications. Email us at msp@msteacher.org.

El Niño and His Sister La Niña

El Niño and La Niña are disruptions of the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific that have important consequences for weather around the globe. A major goal of science in the middle grades, according to the National Science Education Standards, is for students to develop an understanding of earth’s oceans and the effect they have on climate. Investigating the global effects of La Niña and El Niño will help students understand this relationship.

Today’s El Niño/La Niña Information
Daily updates on the tropical Pacific as well as links to news articles and more.

El Niño—Southern Oscillation
This Wikipedia entry provides background information on El Niño and La Niña.

The Return of El Niño
This site describes El Niño’s effects on the oceans, climate, and ocean life. It includes a data activity in which students track some of the common climate changes caused by El Niño, paying close attention to wintertime changes such as temperature, precipitation, and incidence of hurricanes.

Eye on the Ocean
This site describes how the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s TOPEX/Poseidon satellite was used to monitor sea level changes in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the amount of heat stored in the water. Sea level and temperature data were used to successfully predict the 1997-98 El Niño event earlier than ever before.

Howling for Snow
Visitors to this site can view satellite imagery and read articles about on a recent La Niña event, which produced less-than-normal snowfalls in western North America. A discussion of the uncertainties of long-range climate prediction and links to related sites are included.

We Need Your Help

We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. This post was updated 3/27/2012.