Lesson Plan 5

Introduction to Extreme Weather

8th grade Science

Overview

The lesson will introduce students to extreme weather events and conditions that can lead to these events occurring. Students will be able to identify the connection between weather and extreme weather events. Students will participate in 3 mini-lessons for 3 extreme weather events: hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires (time-permitting). These lessons will consist of a quick movie clip of the weather event, followed by a brief description of the causes and how they reshape human and ecological environments. Students will then be asked to write a free-response as a summative assessment

Estimated Time

45 minutes

Essential Questions

What are examples of extreme weather events?
What are the causes of hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires?
How are humans affected by these events?
How are wildlife and the ecosystem affected by these events?

Knowledge Objectives

Students should be able to identify, name, and define 3 major weather events (tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfire). Students will be able to describe the causes of each of these events and how weather/climate plays a role in generating these events. Students will be able to develop ideas for how humans can prevent damage and loss. Students may be able to understand the need for periodic destruction and regeneration, provided the frequency is low.

Materials

Laptop, projectors, PowerPoint, student lab notebooks.

“Caught on Camera: Destructive force of natural disaster Typhoon Souldelor in Taiwan – TomoNews” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_eTexM0bcQ
“Twister” movie clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYg-LtUxhcE
“Caught on camera: Fort McMurray fire erupts behind Global News reporter” : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sqj2bm1VwF0

Vocabulary

Tornado:
Hurricane:
Flood:
Tsunami:
Wildfire

Prerequisite knowledge/skills

Students will have learned about weather as it relates to temperature and air pressure, but nothing else. Students have little-to-no background in this topic.

Lesson

1.) Do Now: Copy vocabulary and definitions in student notebook

2.) Students will be given a handout that has 3 sections for the 3 weather events that will be discussed

3.) Extreme weather event mini-lesson will follow:

  • Hurricanes
  • Students will be shown a clip from Typhoon Souldelor (link is above). Students will be asked to write the name of the place where this video is taking place and the name of the event
  • Students will be shown a slide with bullet point notes for the causes of hurricanes or typhoons:
  1. A low-pressure “disturbance” must form over warm water, but can’t be too close to the equator
  2. Unstable clouds, with little-to-no upper atmosphere winds
  3. A moist, low-pressure air mass
  • Students will be shown a slide with bullet point notes for the impacts of hurricanes/typhoons
  1. Extreme destruction: Can cost up to 47.4 billion dollars
  2. Deadly: Some hurricanes have led to >10,000 deaths
  3. Human defense mechanisms: houses built on stilts to avoid storm surge, seawalls to prevent storm surge
  4. Ecological impacts: hurricanes improve nutrient distribution and reproduction of coral; but oil spills and waste brought in from humans makes hurricanes bad for the ecosystem
  • Tornado
  • Students will be shown a clip from Twister (link is above). Students will be asked to write the name of the place where this video is taking place and the name of the event
  • Students will be shown a slide with bullet point notes for the causes of tornadoes:
  1. Warm, moist air in the lower atmosphere is moving in a different direction to the cold and dry air in the upper atmosphere
  2. Drafts down from the upper atmosphere to the lower atmosphere cause a vortex to form
  3. Better chance with isolated thunderstorms
  • Students will be shown a slide with bullet point notes for the impacts of tornadoes
  1. Extreme destruction: Can cost up to 2.8 billion dollars
  2. Deadly: Some tornadoes have led to >700 deaths
  3. Human defense mechanisms: houses have basements and areas of solid concrete without windows
  4. Ecological impacts: tornadoes destroy vegetation and contaminate waterways with debris
  • Wildfires
  • Students will be shown a clip from the current Fort McMurray wildfires
  • Students will be shown a slide with bullet point notes for the causes of wildfires:
  1. Require spark, oxygen, and fuel (sparks can be caused by humans or from nature)
  2. More common in the west where drought provides perfect fuel
  3. Lightning is a major cause, strong winds can carry sparks
  • Students will be shown a slide with bullet point notes for the impacts of hurricanes/typhoons
  1. Extreme destruction: Can cost up to 2.6 billion dollars
  2. Deadly: Some wildfires have lead to >2000 deaths
  3. Human defense mechanisms: houses built with concrete, spraying vegetation with water,
  4. Ecological impacts: old forests destroyed, but rich nutrients provided for regrowth

4.) Students will then be given a separate sheet with a free response prompt: “If you had to live in an area that experiences one of these disasters commonly, which would you pick and why? Write 3-4 sentences”

Future Directions

If time permits, students can learn about severe flooding, although the imagery associated with this event are not as striking as the other 3 weather-related disasters.

The next lesson should include a discussion of how global warming may lead to increased moisture in the lower atmosphere around the equatorial region as well as increased drought conditions in the western US. With this information, students will be able to understand how global warming can directly contribute to increased extreme weather events.