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Survival -- December 2005

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Teacher’s Guide

Teaching Suggestions for
The Coming Storm

      Article, Page

"Nature’s Fury: For Better or Worse," pg. 6
Volcanic winters, mini-Ice Ages, massive tornadoes, and a decade of dust storms are only a few of the dramatic events in weather’s recent history.
Inductive Reasoning, Critical Thinking

"Other Worlds, Other Storms," pg. 10
The lessons of comparative planetology include the dangers of a runaway greenhouse effect and the outcomes of an asteroid impact. Future space missions may reveal more secrets of weather on other planets.
Comparison and Contrast, Inductive Reasoning

"Firestorm: Weather on a Neutron Star," pg. 13
Explosive waves on a neutron star spread in much the same way as large-scale weather systems on Earth.
Vocabulary, Cause and Effect

"EOS and Terra: Seeing Earth as a System," pg. 14
NASA has turned its "eyes" back to Earth, viewing our planet’s weather with an assortment of new satellites and instruments.
Vocabulary, Applications

"Eye on Hurricanes," pg. 16
Advanced tracking techniques reveal how hurricanes form, grow, and travel. A companion piece (pg. 19) explains how hurricanes are named and invites suggestions from readers.
Vocabulary, Process Analysis

"Warning: Flash Flood!" pg. 20
America’s deadliest weather hazard is not the hurricane or the tornado, but the flash flood.
Cause and Effect, Decision Making

"Daniel Gropper Gauges the Weather," pg. 22
Trained weather spotter and Skywarn team member Daniel Gropper is one of 11,000 volunteers who provide data to the National Weather Service. Sidebars (pgs. 23 and 24) describe the activities of the National Weather Service and count the costs of severe weather warnings.
Problem Solving, Inductive Reasoning

"Survivor: Wild Weather Challenge" (Activity), pg. 26
Consider the possibilities, make your choices, and then see if you can survive extreme weather conditions. Check the margin notes for some amazing weather factoids.
Critical Thinking, Inductive Reasoning

"Trapped in a Lock" (Brain Strain), pg. 29
What should you do to raise the water level in your lock so that you can reach safety? Hurry, the storm is coming!
Deductive Reasoning

"Tornado!" pg. 30
Learning how tornadoes form and move helps us find ways to minimize the damage they cause. Sidebars provide tips on tornado safety (pg. 32), relate some strange-but-true tornado stories (pg. 33), and explain the Fujita scale (pg. 34).
Cause and Effect, Vocabulary

"Chasing Tornadoes: An Interview With Howard Bluestein" (People to Discover), pg. 35
Howard Bluestein has been chasing tornadoes for 25 years. His research and adventures allow him to appreciate tornadoes as "art" . . . very dangerous art.
Inductive Reasoning, Cause and Effect

"Storm of the Century" pg. 38
In March 1993, North America’s worst storm of the 20th century wreaked havoc from the Gulf Coast of Florida to the eastern seaboard of Canada. A sidebar (pg. 40) looks back at the worst storm of the 19th century.
Historical Context, Process Analysis

"How Deep Is It?" (Activity), pg. 41
Follow these tips for accurate measurements of snow depth.
Following Directions, Calculation

"What’s Up and Planet Watch," pg. 42
Look for Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn in the evening, while Mercury appears briefly in the early morning.
Observation, Following Directions

"You Can Do Astronomy" (Activity), pg. 44
If the skies are cloudy, scour your home and neighborhood for celestially named products.
Data Collection and Recording

Think Tank (Discussion Starters to Use Before Reading the Magazine):
  1. What is the worst weather you have ever experienced? What made it so bad? Was it inconvenient, destructive, or life-threatening? If you had known what to expect, how might you have prepared better?
  2. In your opinion, is the weather becoming more violent? What are the reasons for your opinion? Which of those reasons can you support with evidence?

Classroom "Syzygy":     Talk, Connect, Assess

Pg. 6 – "Nature’s Fury: For Better or Worse"
  • Talk It Over:
    1. This writer asserts that the weather is no more severe now than in the past. What logic does he use to support his idea? What evidence does he offer? Is his argument convincing to you? Why or why not?
    2. How did the weather events described in this article influence social and political history? What other examples can you think of?
  • Connections:
    1. Web/Library Research: Select one of the weather events described in the article and learn more about it. Use your library and the Internet to research additional details. Look especially for facts and statistics, as well as personal accounts of the events as told by people who lived through them.
    2. Language Arts: Select one of the events in the article and write a letter to a friend about it. Pretend that you are experiencing the event now and want to describe it as accurately as you can. As an alternative, tell your story as a diary entry to be discovered by future archaeologists or historians.
    3. Visual Arts: Following the same idea as in #2, pretend that you are "on the scene" at this event. A camera is not available (or hasn’t been invented yet). You have to draw what you see. Make sure that your drawing reveals some of the "human cost" of severe weather, as well as the destruction of property.
  • Student Assessment:
    1. What makes a weather event disastrous? State your answer clearly and support your opinion with facts from the article.
    2. Explain how the dust storms of the 1930s affected U.S. history. Tell how you think this country might be different today is they had never happened, and give reasons to support your opinion.
Pg. 30 – "Tornado!" and pg. 35 – "Chasing Tornadoes"
  • Talk It Over:
    1. What conditions must exist for a storm to form a tornado? Why are tornadoes common in the Midwest?
    2. What are the goals of tornado research? According to the article, what is being done to reach those goals?
  • Connections:
    1. Graphic Arts: Draw a three-panel chart showing how tornadoes form, grow, and travel. Label each step in the process carefully.
    2. History/Research: From research in your library and on the Internet, compile a list of "tornado superlatives," such as the largest, longest lasting, and most destructive. Make a list of "Fujita Award Winners" in categories of your choice.
    3. Language Development: Make a list of terms and definitions from the article. Create a word game to trade with classmates to help them master the terms. Follow up with a vocabulary quiz you mark and score yourself.
  • Student Assessment:
    1. In a descriptive essay, explain how scientists predict, track, and monitor tornadoes. How do their efforts help save lives and property?
    2. Pretend you are a tornado spotter or chaser. Prepare a persuasive speech to deliver to Congress supporting increased funding for scientific research on tornadoes.

Far Out!: Moving Beyond the Magazine (Special “smush” version. Combine the phrases to come up with a compound smush. Answers follow.)

Actor who won an Emmy for his role in The Larry Sanders Show and a twister.
Whole-Class Project: Set up a weather station for your school. Decide what variables you will measure and how you will collect and record data. Once you have your system perfected, contact a local radio station to request that your weather reports be broadcast in your community.

Movie directed and written by Orson Welles and a massive cyclone.
Community Connection: Contact someone whose occupation requires paying close attention to the threat of storms. (Possible vocations include meteorologist, farmer, highway safety administrator, and air traffic controller.) Invite the weather expert to speak with your class about the importance of weather prediction in his or her work.

A proverb on naïveté and a whole lot of snow.
Small-Group Activity: Organize the class into teams of 3 or 4 students each. Ask each team to select one severe weather phenomenon and research it in depth. Then, challenge each team to plan and construct a display that defines their chosen weather pattern, reveals its dangers and warning signs, and offers tips on minimizing its dangers. Set these displays around the school to make other students more weather-wise.

Elvis hit and the "seed" of a tornado.
Paired Activity: Have students work in pairs to write and perform two-character skits. The skits should portray people caught in a real event of extreme weather that occurred sometime in the past. Students may augment their presentations with fact sheets, pictures, songs, or poems that provide information and heighten dramatic impact.

Smush answers: 1. Rip Torn-ado. 2. Citizen Hurri-Kane. 3. Ignorance is bliss-ard. 4. Are you mesocyclone-some tonight?

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Last modified: January 31, 2004