The Relationship Between Sea Surface Temperature and Hurricane Activity

Is your unit on climate and weather approaching? Here’s some research you can use to enrich students’ understanding of weather. It can help you make real-world connections from the textbook and classroom to the research scientists working to understand the science of hurricanes.

The news comes from ScienceDaily. The article, Increased Hurricane Activity Linked to Sea Surface Warming, explains how two variables, sea surface temperature and atmospheric wind field, were used to model the conditions under which hurricanes form. When they focused on temperature, the researchers found that a small increase in sea surface temperature, 0.5 degrees C, had a large impact on hurricane activity.

Mark Saunders, one of the researchers from University College London, emphasized,

Our analysis does not identify whether greenhouse gas-induced warming contributed to the increase in water temperature and thus to the increase in hurricane activity. However, it is important that climate models are able to reproduce the observed relationship between hurricane activity and sea surface temperature so that we can have confidence in their reliability to project how hurricane activity will respond to future climate change.

An impressive, aggregate satellite photo of several hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico during 2005 accompanies the article. There are also links to several recent, related stories.

How to Turn This News Event into an Inquiry-Based, Standards-Related Science Lesson

This news article connects directly to the Earth and Space Sciencecontent standard for grades 5-8 of the National Science Education Standards, which includes this fundamental concept: “Global patterns of atmospheric movement influence local weather. Oceans have a major effect on climate, because water in the oceans holds a large amount of heat.” The reported research also connects to the Science as Inquiry content standard.

If your students already have a good understanding of the science of hurricanes, ask them what they think would be different about the world’s hurricanes if the sea surface temperature increased just a half degree C. How do they think one could investigate that question? What other variables need to be considered? What other existing evidence could be used to inform one’s hypotheses? Suggest that they might look at the history of hurricanes and the sea surface temperature conditions under which they formed. Why would such an investigation be potentially useful?

Then show them the brief article and ask, What do you think Saunder’s intention was when he said, “Our analysis does not identify whether greenhouse gas-induced warming contributed to the increase in water temperature and thus to the increase in hurricane activity?” Lead students to the related ideas of methods of science, which include making inferences supported by the evidence. This research did not investigate what might contribute to sea surface temperature increases, only the effects of sea surface temperature increases.

Here are some additional resources that are part of the Middle School Portal 2 collection to facilitate your instruction regarding weather and climate:

 The Powerful Punch of  a Hurricane; El Nino and His Sister La NinaTracking El Nino; Detecting El Nino in Sea Surface Temperature DataOceans, Climate and Weather; Earth’s Oceans, and Ocean Temperatures.

We Want Your Feedback

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 originally written by Mary LeFever and published February 7, 2008 in the Connecting News to the National Science Education Standards blog. The post was updated 3/27/12 by Jessica Fries-Gaither.

Integrating Technology: Interactive Whiteboards

This article was written by middle school science teacher Todd Williamson and originally published in the December 2008 Integrating Technology column of Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears, an online magazine for elementary teachers. All versions of this article are licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Over the past several years, many schools have purchased interactive whiteboards (IWBs). This technology can have a great impact on teaching and learning in math and science classes. IWBs can become a portal that allows all of the students in a class to be immersed in technology even if there is limited computer availability in the room. Interactive whiteboards are produced by several companies: Smart Technologies, Promethean, Polyvision, and Interwrite Learning tend to be the most common.

HOW DOES AN IWB WORK?
The basic IWB is a large, touch-sensitive screen that is attached to a computer, through either a USB cable or a wireless connection, and an LCD projector. The projector displays images from the computer’s desktop to the whiteboard. Any touch on the IWB sends a signal to the computer, allowing you to control your computer from the IWB.

A selection of colored “pens” makes it possible to write notes on the surface of the board. It is also possible to save anything written or drawn on the board to the computer. For example, rather than drawing an image several times for different class sessions throughout the day, or through a weeklong unit, you can save the drawing to the computer and bring it back to the board whenever needed. Most IWBs also work with Microsoft’s Office suite to allow you to insert your drawings into PowerPoint presentations or Word documents.

Using A SmartBoard with Microsoft PowerPoint
This link takes you to a video clip showing this process using Smart Technologies’s SmartBoard.

Using Smart Notebook 10 Software
The software packages that come with IWBs from different makers will vary, but, in general, each company gives you access to a number of features, lesson plans, and images. This short video shows some of the features of Smart Notebook software. Similar features are available through Promethean’s Activstudio.

LESSON IDEAS
Smart and Promethean offer lesson plan-sharing web sites for ideas on using their IWBs in the classroom. In addition to these lesson plans, there are hundreds of ways to use IWBs with teaching resources you already use for your everyday classroom needs.

Internet Browsing/Online Activities for Class Demonstrations
Google’s free program called Google Earth shows satellite imagery of the entire world. With an IWB your class can view the local community around your school, virtually visit regions in different climate zones, and see cloud cover/weather patterns across the planet.

Many web sites offer Flash- or Java-based games that are educational in nature. When you don’t want to take the entire class to the computer lab for a game, you may find that the IWB works perfectly. Additionally, the touch screen of the IWB makes computer activities even more “hands-on.” Examples of these types of activities are available at EdHeads, Nobel Prize, and Electricity.

Document Editing
A difficult task for many teachers is teaching the editing process. This is not just a language arts issue; it is also important that students can edit and revise research in other classes and lab write-ups in science classes. Student writing samples can be displayed on the IWB, marked up using “digital ink,” saved, and digitally transferred back to the student. This helps teach the writing process, as well as making writing a more collaborative process for students.

HOW TO GET THE MOST FROM YOUR IWB
Due to the cost of IWBs, many schools are able to purchase only a single board for their building. Since IWBs are a piece of instructional technology, the lone board often winds up in the computer lab. To get the most from an IWB, it should be housed in a regular classroom. Most IWBs can be either mounted to the wall or on legs that allow it to be moved from classroom to classroom. With only one IWB in the building, the moveable option is optimal.

The best staff development on IWBs comes from using them daily in the classroom. Teachers quickly become proficient at the basic functions of the IWB with minimal training. However, the broad range of functions available on IWBs makes using only the most basic functions a waste of the power of the board. If several teachers in the building are interested in learning to use the IWB, the school should consider rotating it through classrooms on a weekly basis. This gives teachers the opportunity to try multiple lessons and advanced techniques with the board.

USEFUL LINKS
Smart Technologies
[From the makers of Smart Boards] From this site you can view Smart’s array of products and access the Smart Learning Marketplace, where there are lots of lessons available in Smart Notebook files.

Promethean
[From the makers of Activboards] Here you can view Promethean’s products and visit Promethean Planet for lesson ideas.

PDtoGo SmartBoard Podcast
Weekly podcast of links and activities for Smart Boards, but could be used for any IWB.

Smart Board Revolution
This is a social network created by users of Smart Board interactive whiteboards. It offers networking with over 400 educators, videos, blog posts, a forum, and file uploads related to using Smart Boards in the classroom.

Google Earth
Google Earth lets you view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3-D buildings, and galaxies. There are many ways to use Google Earth in conjunction with an IWB as part of science or social studies units.

EdHeads
Edheads features educational games and activities designed to meet state and national standards. Current topics include simple machines, weather, forces and motion, and virtual surgery.

Nobel Prize
Educational games based on Nobel Prize-awarded achievements.

Electrocity Simulation
Electrocity is a turn-based simulation that explores energy resources and economic factors in developing a thriving city. Players take on the role of mayor and make economic and energy decisions for their city. At the end of 150 turns they are graded on their performance. This is a great way to introduce games with the Smart Board.


We Want Your Feedback
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 11/21/2011.

Designing WebQuests

A well-designed WebQuest allows students to increase their computer technology skills, do research, discover what they didn’t know, and construct new understandings of mathematics and science concepts. WebQuests can be done solo, with a partner, or in small groups. Small groups can jigsaw and gather an even wider breadth and depth of information for teaching and sharing with others. Here are several sites to introduce you to the WebQuest concept and get you started. Adding another teaching strategy to one’s repertoire is a win-win for teachers and learners.

WebQuest.org
This site from San Diego State University claims origination of the technique. The left navigation bar includes links to finding WebQuests and creating WebQuests. The pedagogy in the latter link should not be overlooked.

A WebQuest about WebQuests
This exercise has proven useful for introducing the concept to educators. Working in teams, the participants examine five WebQuests from four different points of view.

Kathy Schrock’s Guide for Educators
This page echoes elements from the site above but includes links to tutorials and rubrics for assessing WebQuests.

Dr. Alice Christie’s What Is a WebQuest?
Here one finds detailed pedagogical and technical information on creating and using WebQuests.


We Want Your Feedback
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 4/19/2012.

Teaching Ethics

In June 2007, the National Science Teachers Association adopted its official position statement on professionalism. Teachers, like all other working adults, are expected to conduct their work professionally and ethically. But when exactly would they have learned proper ethics? Ethics is sometimes perceived as a sensitive issue and is not explicitly taught in the K-12 years. Here are some resources on ethics education to assist you in preparing your students for higher education and the work force.

The President’s Council on Bioethics
Some topics included on this web site are: aging, biotechnology; cloning; and behavior control.

Bad Science
The public is captivated by forensic science as portrayed in TV shows, but are we aware that forensic scientists are faced with some unethical demands in the course of their work?

St James Ethics Centre: Imagine A More Ethical World
This not-for-profit organization provides a forum for the exploration of ethical decision making.

Why Teach Bioethics?
A high school chemistry teacher poses this question in an article and notes that bioethics is an excellent vehicle to generate interest and establish the relevancy of science content.


We Want Your Feedback
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 4/19/2012.