There are few forces in nature as incredible and destructive as hurricanes. This idea has become especially relevant given the recent events surrounding hurricane Ian. Nearly all of us have seen news stories featuring the National Weather Service tracking a hurricane as it gathers strength out at sea. Residence of costal areas are encouraged to seek shelter, or in some cases, evacuate entirely. When the storm finally hits, the world turns to wind, water, and lightning. Some of you may have even experienced a hurricane firsthand – it’s not something you’re likely to forget.

One of the few silver linings to these destructive storms is that they can teach us more about the world we live in. When these natural disasters hit the news, students tend to ask great questions, and educators should be ready to answer. “How do hurricanes form?”, “How dangerous can they become?”, “What can I do to help my community?”, are just a few ideas that teachers can take advantage of in their classrooms. By fostering these questions and turning them into engaging learning opportunities, educators can help students understand these powerful storms and prepare for their impact when necessary. Here are just a few strategies that, when employed, will turn your students into Disaster Detectives:

  • Let’s Get Reading: Finding a good book is a great first step to learn about something new. Consider having students participate in a classroom read-aloud featuring a book about hurricanes. The Magic School Bus Inside a Hurricane by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen is an excellent way to introduce your students to the science of hurricanes, while A Place Where Hurricanes Happen by Renée Watson and Shadra Stickland allows them to explore the social and emotional consequences of these storms. Either way, their curiosity will be sparked, along with their reading and language skills!
  • History’s Hurricanes: Hurricanes have wreaked havoc on our country throughout history, and many lives have been lost due to these storms. In this activity, students will use a Thinglink to explore facts about the 13 deadliest hurricanes in United States history. Then, they will document these disasters in chronological order, record the number of lives lost, and respond to a set of reflection questions to make them think about hurricanes more deeply. The process should give them a greater understanding of how these storms have changed over time.
  • Tracking Hurricanes: Meteorologists save lives by tracking a hurricane’s progress and making predictions about where it might make landfall. In this activity, your students will practice plotting the path of a hurricane and will test their own powers of prediction to see if they can determine which coastal areas are in most danger. Help them think and act like scientists by turning them into real-life storm chasers!
  • Light the Bulb: One of the biggest dangers of any storm is the loss of electricity. Students can help their friends and family prepare by learning how to create a temporary flashlight out of household products. First, provide students with some D-cell batteries, wires, playdough, and two 1.5 V bulbs. Then, challenge them to find a way to light the bulb using only the materials they’ve been given. Once they have mastered lighting the bulb, challenge them to build a flashlight to save the day!

If you found these strategies to be helpful, be sure to check out Blue Apple’s Disaster Detectives: Hurricanes! This latest project comes with five free lessons that instruct students in the different phenomena behind one of Earth’s most devastating natural disasters. Not only do these lessons teach students the science of storms, but they also encourage them to get involved in storm preparation and repair. Just imagine what could be accomplished if classrooms around the country used what they learned to safeguard their homes against hurricanes. If teachers know anything, it’s that they should never underestimate the positive impact of motivated students!

*Today’s image courtesy of Wikimedia commons.

For more free educational resources, check out these free tools and strategies from Blue Apple!