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Lesson Plans

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Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Here are organizers for your students to follow as they complete the lesson activities:

  • Lesson 1: What is a tornado?

    Write your name and the names of students in your group in your journal. Remember to record your research and results in your journals. Go to theTornado Project Online and link to Tornado Stories. With your group read the eyewitness account of the Newport Family. Write down keywords or phrases that describe the tornado and its effects. Groups will report on their research.

    Go to the FEMA tornado page. Take notes on the dangers of a tornado. How should people prepare for a tornado? What is the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado alert? What should people do during a tornado? What precautions should be taken after a tornado? Groups will come together again for a report.

  • Lesson 2: How are tornados created?

    Remember to write notes in your journals as you explore. Go to the WW2010 WebPage/Tornado Categories and note how tornados are categorized. The site contains links to words which you may have questions about. If your teacher agrees, use the links to enhance your notes. Groups will come together for reports. Your teacher will talk about mesocyclones.

    Go to the WW2010 WebPage/Thunderstorm Anatomy and explore the role of updrafts and downdrafts in creating thunderstorms.

    Next, go to the WW2010 WebPage/Thunderstorm Types and research the thunderstorm type assigned to your group by your teacher. Groups will meet to report about thunderstorm anatomy and thunderstorm types.

    After the reports, your teacher will show you two animations. The first shows how tornados start as horizontal columns of rotating air. They become vertical as the column encounters updraft. The second animation shows the development of a supercell and resulting tornado.

    After discussing the animations, go to the NISE WebPage to explore efforts at tornado prediction. Write reasons why prediction is difficult. Link to the second page on good news and write what science is doing to improve tornado forecasts. Groups will meet and discuss tornado prediction.

  • Lesson 3: How are tornados measured?

    After getting your journal, meet with your group to discuss how tornados can be measured. Groups will report their ideas.

    Go to the Tornado Project Online to explore the Fujita Scale. How is the Fujita scale set up? Record the advantages and disadvantages of using this scale.

    Go to the Torro Scale and explore the Torro Scale for tornado measurement. How is the Torro Scale set up? Record the advantages and disadvantages of using this scale. Groups will meet to discuss the two scales and question which one is better.

    Groups will go back to the Internet and access the Weather Channel site to witness the damage an F-3 tornado can do. The tornado struck Clarksville, Tennessee on January 22nd, 1999. Link on the view assigned to your group by your teacher. The views are 360 degrees and can be explored by moving your mouse left or right, up or down. You also can zoom in and out for close study. Note the damage in your journals. Discuss with your group which scale did a better job of describing the tornado. What number would the Torro Scale use to describe the Clarksville tornado? Groups will meet and report.

    Both the Fujita and Torro Scales are based on the Beaufort Scale of 1805. Access the Beaufort Wind Scale. Study the scale and write how this scale influenced the other two scales. Groups will meet and report.

    Your teacher will ask groups to apply what they learned about the Fujita Scale by studying tornado damage photos from Spencer, South Dakota and deciding what F scale number should be assigned to the tornado that did the damage. Go to the Spencer WebPage and study the photos assigned to the class. Groups will meet to discuss their predictions. Do all groups agree? Discuss the problems in assigning tornados Fujita Scale numbers.

  • Ongoing Activity

    Groups will take turns monitoring the U.S. Weather Service's warning service for tornados and supercells. Go to the Storm Prediction Center's listing of the previous day's weather phenomena. Note in your journal any tornados writing their F scale number, location, time, and observation report.

    Go to the Interactive Weather Information Network run by the U.S. Weather Service and click on warnings for tornado and supercells. Note their location and time.

    Have your group report to the class the previous day's tornados and current warnings.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students