Apr 11 2007

Lesson Plans IV

Students pick up science knowledge as they track and examine natural disasters.

Twister Redux
Students pick up science knowledge as they track and examine natural disasters.

Students are typically interested in the science of weather and how it affects their daily lives, but they really sit up straight and take notice when the classroom discussion turns to storms and natural disasters. Find out how this class, with the help of the Jason Project’s new Operation: Monster Storms curriculum, learns science from a team of researchers from NASA, National Geographic and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Lesson description: For the third chapter of this curriculum, “Mission 3: The Chase – On the Run in Tornado Alley,” students follow the work of a real tornado chaser and learn thunderstorm formation, how lightning, thunder and tornadoes form, and how dew point and dry line play a role in thunderstorm and tornado development. Students also discover the tools used to forecast and study tornadoes.

The lesson begins with students watching an eight-minute “Mission Briefing” video that introduces tornado researcher Tim Samaras and his team of student researchers. In this video and coinciding article, students receive their learning objectives and come to understand key terms. Next, students read research articles; listen to a podcast featuring Samaras; and perform hands-on labs and a field assignment to measure dew point, determine the distance to a thunderstorm, model a tornado and analyze data to predict severe weather.

Subject area: This lesson was designed for fifth- through eighth-grade science students to be used as part of an overall weather unit, but it can be easily adapted for higher or lower levels.

Standards: The lesson meets the following National Science Teachers Association standards:

  • Create an inquiry-based science program for students
  • Focus and support student inquiries
  • Encourage and model the skills of scientific inquiry
  • Guide students in self-assessment
  • Design and manage learning environments that provide students with the time, space and resources needed for learning science
  • Make the available science tools, materials, media and technological resources accessible to students
  • Identify and use resources outside the school
  • Develop communities of science learners that reflect the intellectual rigor of scientific inquiry and the attitudes and social values conducive to science learning

Resources: Operation: Monster Storm’s Mission 3 print articles, labs, videos and podcast, along with additional multimedia resources, can be found at www.jason.org. The complete Operation: Monster Storms curriculum will launch in June 2007 and will be free. Online features will include videos, podcasts, digital labs, chats, journals, bulletin boards and teacher tools for lesson planning, alignment, assessments, reporting and classroom management. A digital library will enable users to search Jason materials by subject, state standard and resource type.

Grading Rubric: Students are graded based on information and observations contained in their journals. In June 2007, teachers can create custom assessments on the Jason Web site by searching through a library of pre-built questions or creating their own. Once an assessment is created, a teacher can assign it for students to complete either online or off. Assessments can also be stored, shared and graded online.

Teaching Tips

  • Everything at www.jason.org is free, but registration is required.
  • To view and download the print mission briefing and research articles, Adobe Acrobat is needed.
  • Videos can be downloaded in low- and high-resolution versions.