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Southern Trails Project: Horrific Hurricanes

Introduction. What's in a name? Camille, Andrew, Floyd, Hugo all sound harmless enough, but for thousands of people who have made their home in the southeast during the past half century, these names and others ignite hidden, often horrific, memories. June through December is hurricane season. To learn the signifigance of these names and more, classes combine their science, mathematics, geography and language arts skills to explore hurricanes of the past century.

Project Summary. The southeast is a frequent recipient of severe weather, especially hurricanes. These ferocious storms have carved paths of destruction through many coastal and inland areas during the past hundred years. This online project provides students the opportunity to use science, mathematics, geography and language arts skills to explore hurricanes of the past century. Each participating class will examine a hurricane that has impacted their area or an area close to them. This research will include general historical information and some typical weather-related concepts. Additionally, it will also require students to dig deeper into unique topics that aren't usually considered connected to hurricanes.


Grade Level. 4-8

Project Objectives. This project provides an opportunity for classes to use science, mathematics, geography and language arts skills to research hurricanes of the past century.

Subjects. Science, Mathematics, Geography, Language Arts, and Technology

Activity 1 of 3: What's in a Name? This activity requires students to research the history of specific hurricanes, write of Hurricane Brief containing specific information, and plot its course on a map.

  1. Using print or electronic-based resources, select a hurricane to research and find the following information.
    • Time period (dates during which the storm was classified as a hurricane)
    • Maximum intensity (i.e. Category 5)
    • Maximum sustained wind speed
    • Damage (in dollars)
    • Loss of life
    • Where it made landfall
    • Height of the storm surge
    • Path of the storm
    • Any other information deemed relevant
  2. Using a word processor, use the information from your research to write a narrative about the hurricane.
  3. Create a map of the hurricane's Storm Track. When possible, start with it's development as a tropical storm. Use dates to label the track. This map can be hand-drawn then digitally photographed/scanned or it can be created using graphic software. The end product must be picture file in jpeg or gif format.

Resources for this Activity:

Activity 2 of 3: Are Hurricanes Bulls or Bears? This activity rquires students to research the performance of the stock market during a hurricane or collection of hurricanes.

  1. Select no more than five hurricanes per class to research.
  2. Research the hurricane(s) and determine the duration for each (i.e September 12, 1969 - September 20, 1969).
  3. Visit the web site below to determine the closing level of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) for your hurricane.
  4. Use a word processor to record the closing DJIA for each day of the hurricane. Advanced users can record this information using an Excel spreadsheet.
  5. Respond to the following questions.
    • Describe the general trend of the DJIA during the hurricane?
    • What was the difference (in points and precentage) between the highest and lowest close during the hurricane?

Resources for this Activity:

Activity 3 of 3: Under Pressure! This activity requires students to explore the concept of barometric pressure and collect related data on at least two different hurricanes.

  • Research the concept of barometric pressure.
  • Select at least two and no more than five hurricanes per class to research.
  • Using appropriate print or electronic-based resources, determine each hurricane's:
  • Lowest official barometric pressure and the date recorded
  • Highest barometric pressure and the date recorded
  • Maximum intensity (i.e. Category 4)
  • Use a word processor to record the above information.

Please Register. To continue providing free Web resources and lesson plans, the federally funded SEIR*TEC group must document the number of teachers using its materials. Please register if you intend to use this lesson plan by e-mailing your name, e-mail address, school name, and location, to Jeni O'Sullivan (josulliv@serve.org).