Teaching About Hurricanes
Oblique Investigation: Two directions
Initiating learning from hurricane
experiences, and careful consideration for trauma
Students already have knowledge of hurricanes,
but the knowledge may be based on the ferocity of hurricanes; it is
very likely that the knowledge is linked to trauma if the children live,
or have lived, in areas where hurricane weather occurs frequently.
They will bring with them to class their experiences, and may very likely
want to express them. Encouraging children from these types of
areas to write journals and create artwork provides them with a reflective
outlet for feelings and ideas that they have; teachers can use creations
to access the state of the class with respect to trauma.
Their experiences will make them curious
about weather, and their reflections of their experiences to the class
will help create a "teachable moment." Teachers
can use this opportunity to teach about weather in a way that involves
the students' experiences in their learning, and helps create knowledge
they can use to resolve feelings they have about the devastation wrought
Since the knowledge may be associated
with trauma, the students' reflection of their experiences needs to
happen as an unhurried and voluntary flow. Students may relate
their memories to the class, or they may chose to confide in the teacher.
There is very little a teacher, or anyone else, can do to directly heal
the effects of trauma. In cases where their experiences have been
traumatic enough to cause anguish and personal pain, solutions obviously
lies outside the class with healing professionals; extreme suffering
usually requires anti-depressant medication to prevent damage from the
resurgence of the memories.
The reflection of the trauma process
is necessary; the idea that the trauma can be separated from the student
while the student is sitting in the class, and therefore ignored, is
the thinking of purely detached teachers attempting to side-step responsibilities.
The types of expressions teachers are famous for initiating, are the
beginnings of group involvement and community; they are a basis of what
we appreciate as the human experience: it's suffering and joys.
The oblique approach to teaching about
hurricanes, and resolving hurricane trauma issues, involves a study
of weather from a typical earth-science approach. As the topics
become sophisticated, concepts can connect to allow students to begin
to form a picture of how weather systems interrelate to create the ferocious
that cause so much hardship.
As students initially reflect their experiences,
teachers, in a parallel process, can begin to create plans for study.
Noting expressions in student journals and art is important in helping
teachers can know if students are going to experience trauma symptoms;
it is important to try to predict the trauma resurgence known as flashbacks.
There can be an implosion of memories that is, in itself, highly damaging.
An important responsibility lesson for
students is introduced when they learn about the realities extreme weather.
The responsibility they learn is about self-preservation in the context
of the hurricane; they become self-determinant with respect to their
lives. The focus of the learning is on responsibility (and science)
in relation to life. Students can also learn about areas of study
that they may want to pursue as careers through the diverse learnings
associated with studying about hurricanes.
The concepts that the students present,
in their reflections of weather, can be valuable clues to help teachers
create experiments to initiate the studies: the basis of the understanding
of weather by children can lead to community acceptance of the reality
Because of the scope of weather studies,
it seems unlikely that students will introduce the concepts that can
be used to directly approach the central concept of weather: that all
weather is affected by other weather, by other elements of the physical
nature of the Earth, and even by things in space.
Likewise, the traumatic nature of hurricane
studies requires that the study process be scaffolded to prevent too
many realities from being presented simultaneously. In the classical
sense of scaffolding, students have to be shielded, somewhat, from the
central issues. Yet, they need to begin to start knowledge building
skills of webbing, really concept building, to be able to eventually
tackle weather concepts from a holistic, or general systems theory,
approach. In their study of weather will be much conceptual grasping
and required learnings. Physics and math are essential for weather
Social and personal perspectives will
eventually be addressed especially if the community is involved.
How things will play out for the students personally, and for the community
as a whole, will become questions that possibly lead to independent
and relevant inquiry and project oriented resolutions on the community
Certainly, the best-known hurricane experience,
the Katrina disaster, will become a topic at the community level if
the community is invited into the learning process. Teacher preparedness
to field these issues, by channeling them in a proactive direction,
can prevent dissolution into conceptual disorder triggered by the traumatic
nature of hurricanes and experiences with their aftermath. Teachers
may want to introduce questions into the general study at relevant points
if certain concepts don't come up naturally as part of a long-term inquiry
Initiating the Project Cycle (First
concepts - child science)
Allowing ideas by the children, and young
students, to guide initial experimentation is never wrong, no matter
how childish their ideas seem. There are no wrong answers by students
in their initial inquiry phases because they are applying inquiry to
the world as they see it. Rather thinking of them as being wrong,
think of their ideas as "intelligently wrong." (Ault from
Shapiro, p 21) In developing ideas and presenting them, students
have taken an important step: they are taking responsibility for their
Knowledge organization consists of skills;
exciting progress has occurred in the advancement of these skills in
the past two decades to help students successfully, quickly, and enthusiastically
build knowledge. This is in the area of webbing, or the concept
maps, and in computers. The seemingly new ideas brought to the
class by the constructivists are also helping students build knowledge,
but they are, in reality, a revival of traditional community values.
Today, in Canada, the Aboriginal Television Channel every day has programs
where modern Native philosophers discuss tribal community relationships
and traditional therapies that would seem radical even for constructivists
Completely new to our generation, I believe,
is the concept map. Teaching concept mapping, group dynamics,
and rudimentary research techniques--teaching to learn through project
science--might require a didactic class in the beginning to introduce
knowledge organizational techniques, concept mapping software, and also
mind mapping software. If using computer technology, an introduction
to the structural ideas behind the concept maps, complex structures
may also be helpful. The use of concept maps can be a continual
re-grouping space to tie the projects into a single weather systems
Combining the initiation process of the
learning cycle while introducing rudimentary knowledge organization
skills may provide a chicken-and-egg conundrum. It would be conceptually
perfect to allow students, as their first weather experience, latitude
to use their natural curiosity along with guidance to provide them with
some sort of ground shaking epiphany (from a child's perspective) to
initiate their learning. But, so important are the organizational
skills and responsibilities for group learning, that it seems necessary
to provide an instructional introduction to assure that disruptive behaviors
and other tendencies that may undermine group learning don't redirect
the learning process to the point that the teacher is spending more
time correcting behaviors than guiding inquiry.
Ideally, students should become curious
about weather, auto-magically picking the topics on which to test their
conceptual understandings, coming to the correct conclusions and inserting
their new knowledge into their knowledge trees. With practice,
this will likely happen, especially if the students are introduced to
knowledge organization at the early stages, say kindergarten or the
early grades. More likely, however, the teacher will have to provide
guidance. She may have to start with an obvious example, creating
an experiment, recording information and, with all the learning, create
a concept map.
Many students succeed within the classic
scientific corollary of observation, hypothesizing, and experimentation;
many older middle school students have stronger abilities than most
adults have in the classical scientific methodology. A middle
school student created a web page showing a correlation between clouds
and temperature, which, at least for the conditions during the study,
proved her hypothesis that clouds make the temperature cooler. (M, Erika)
A good percentage of students will study
science at home individually or in pairs. They individually will
wonder conceptually in ways that need to be initiated in classes; their
inquiry can be naturally self-guided. Their work will very likely
be perfect contributions for the class knowledge structure. Sadly,
in today's society, their work may go unnoticed, may be deliberately
ignored, or may even be discouraged. In Bonnie Shapiro's experience,
fully half of her study group worked at home, yet the teacher was unaware
of their work. In particular, two, Melody and Pierre, implemented
aesthetic concepts into their scientific learnings in ways society has
yet to integrate, by appreciating nature as approaching science, and
by illustrating science learning in the ways Darwin did. (Shapiro, 152)
Teachers need to carefully empower the
student group with a positive and inclusive learning environment to
draw every student towards scientifically valid concepts, both factual
building blocks as well as social constructs. Many students may
come to school already having been exposed to disruptive or controlling
behaviors, the types experienced in highly competitive or abusive family
environments, or even in prisons.
The simplest weather experiment, probably,
is creating rain in a glass jar. If the lid of a jar has attachments
to the inside of it so that vapor can condense and drip, water can be
heated at the bottom to be vapor, and condensed with cold at the top,
by putting ice on the lid, to show that rain is cyclically evaporated
and condensed water. A concept map, or web, for this construct
can be created on paper or with magnetized cards connected with lines
drawn on the board. Measurements may be applied to demonstrate
the conservation of matter through the process, introducing some required
learning. Concept mapping techniques can be applied to the idea
of a closed system without any difficult constructs to complicate early
learning. Students bored by the simplicity of the experiment can
be encouraged to design more complicated experiment designs; students
bored by the simple social construct can be invited to develop better
concept maps or facilitate a group learning structure.
Constructs develop first on paper; then
they go to the board. As students become familiar with computers,
they can start building the concept tree. Misconceptions start
giving way to group learnings, as student working in groups tend to
eliminate resistance to accepted scientific ideas simply by developing
consensus through their experiments. In some teaching environments
that have used group project science for decades, misconceptions may
not even exist, because a culture of scientific discovery has been developed
in the student community; their community science is scientifically
based. Even through schoolyard play, the youthful community may
have already implemented knowledge construction as a component of their
Ideas flowing into the concept map have
to be accepted as established science at the top level of the map construct,
so that the map is valid in its basic premise. While the discovery
of non-valid ideas within the root ideas (or nodes) of the concept map
may be a valuable lesson in correcting misconceptions, building knowledge
based on fundamental misconceptions introduced by students (and permitted
by teachers to allow students to correct their own misconceptions),
may also be a huge waste of time and resources.
Maps develop over a long period so that
the basic concepts can be accepted as fact throughout the community.
The mapping process has to be sophisticated so that idea constructions
can be shared with other weather learners, and published so that the
community can give recognition. Storage and access are important
too so that the students can continually build and reference their information.
It is probable that existing mapping tools do not yet meet these needs.
Students may have to develop their own concept sharing skills, something
entirely doable at the high school level, in my experience.
Making weather learning sophisticated
Wind, rain and clouds are obvious components
of weather and storms; they can work towards the study hurricanes (without
mentioning it by name yet), students can easily identify rain and wind
as ingredients of a storm.
Understanding where rain comes from,
and how it relates to clouds, offers plenty of challenge to students.
Interesting are the related ideas of the water cycle, how water evaporates
from water bodies (such as oceans), forms into clouds to return to Earth
(and oceans) as rain. Initially, many students associate clouds,
along with thunder and lightening, with God. Sometimes they think
clouds are man-made and that they are smoke. As they learn the
idea of change-of-state where water vaporizes forming clouds and the
water returns to earth as condensation. Here they can explore
many ideas, especially understanding that air is matter; initially children
only assume that solids are matter. (Henriques) They usually believe
water turns into air as it vaporizes, which is technically correct,
but they can enhance that evaporation concept by knowing that water
vapor molecules combines with all the other invisible molecules that
make up air. A demonstration of the water cycle can be constructed
within a closed aquarium. One half of the aquarium has a pool
in it with a heat source such as an over head lamp. The other
half has cooling applied to the cover so that the water vaporized by
the heat source will condense and fall back on to the aquarium floor.
A miniature mountain range with valleys can add aesthetics to the learning.
As they become expert in understanding
the water cycle, students will realize that water vapor is clear and
colorless, yet becomes white when it forms clouds; they then understand
clouds are really made from tiny water droplets, just as fog is.
Fog can be created with an ultrasonic humidifier; it can be poured into
a pitcher and dumped over a model town for effect. Clearly, fog
sinks with gravity; water droplets are heavier than air, which will
explain rain. But, why do clouds stay aloft? One obvious
reason is that updrafts of air push the vapor up, but what holds the
masses of droplets there? Water when it vaporizes absorbs heat
at its source, when it condenses it releases heat to the surrounding
air. The combined air and water droplet suspension maintains the
same warmth (or heat) it had when it rose as air and water vapor from
its water source. As a difficult concept to absorb, this learning
may have to wait to become a completely formed idea in the weather concept
Introduction of the water cycle, along
with the concept that air has matter and is a combination of things
helps bring students closer towards the idea of weather as the interactive
system: the holistic (or general systems) approach to science.
The idea of air as being matter extends the study of air to the study
of wind; if air has mass, moving air, or wind, has force. The
idea that air can exert static pressure has to wait; it is not until
later middle school that static force can be absorbed. Understanding
the static force of air is essential, because of the barometric components
of weather formation and measurement. With all these steps, students
move towards becoming experts in hurricane understanding.
While students can develop basic components,
such as wind, rain, and the clouds; other ideas such as the relationships
between these, require teacher prompting. Truly sophisticated
ideas such as the water cycle need more teacher guidance. Having
been prompted and guided, the learners can discover and experiment until
they get stumped. When perplexed, they may accept scientific explanations
as holdovers to satisfy them until they can provide their own proofs.
The more scientific ideas students can accept, the more quickly they
can move on, allowing more sophisticated learning to challenge them.
Interactions between groups from different grades may allow more expert
students to help younger students clear out some of the less accurate
of the intuitive understandings they brought to school.
Crucial for students is the ability to
create science they can embrace, so that they may be the initiators
of their own experiments, or the owners of the research information
they synthesize from valid research material they have collected.
They can return to their group, with its accumulated weather knowledge,
to find areas that perplex them, necessitating clarification.
They can contribute individually or in small groups, gaining from the
group confidence, returning an air of credibility and expertness to
the group as a whole. Wide-ranging understandings utilizing science
is a social atmosphere can help the group weather all kinds of challenges,
not just the extreme weather they have, or may in the future, experience.
It is unlikely that students will initiate
inquiry into the larger weather system concepts, because, as systems,
they are dependent on so many contributing factors. They may be
able to initiate inquiry about the smaller concepts, creating mini-projects
from the greater concepts (there is no shame in mini-learnings as weather
as it is represented in the concept map is a construction of mini-systems.)
Group success, from the perspective of the concept map, is in finding
mini-learnings so as to be able to take ownership of successful inquiry,
hence the insertion of valid concepts in the groups accumulated knowledge.
For group inclusion, it would be necessary for every student to have
their name on at least one successful inquiry; it may be necessary for
the teacher to supply inquiries to those students unable to initiate
their own inquiry by finding things they cannot understand in the greater
learnings. It may be also necessary for teachers to assist in
the resolution of inquiries to assure that students have work they can
be proud of, to give them confidence to initiate new inquiry.
None-the-less, these inquiries, or mini-projects, have to be studies
comprehensive enough to all the available talent in the group, there
needs to be a slight "division of labor" to assure that everybody
is doing tasks they can enjoy and succeed at.
Knowledge Development Cycles
As the general understanding of weather
becomes more comprehensive, individual understandings become smaller
in comparison to the big picture. Cycles of inquiry and concept
development become shorter as the students become more expert at weather
studies and their knowledge organization skills improve. Group
effectiveness is also important as students become more involved and
responsible, and the more confident students learn how to encourage
the less confidant students to be more productive, giving them the boost
they need to succeed.
Truly successful projects in all science
fall into development cycles. A good point of evaluation for a
project is when a component of the project, or the whole project, is
delivered or presented. For science project learners, this would
be when a significant understanding is contributed to the concept map.
An interesting point for inserting required math learning is when students
evaluate their successes in knowledge creation. In a sense, failure
can be avoided by allowing students to re-initiate their mini-projects
so as to be able to reinforce their learning, as well as produce results
worthy of recognition. If students can repeat their learnings
in cycles, ultimately achieving complete success, their evaluation benchmarks
can be very strict: the kind of evaluation criteria scientists use.
Generally referred to as milestones, quantifying progress in cycles
may be an opportunity to introduce embedded required math learnings
as part of progress analysis. Graphs, for instance, can be introduced
to allow students to show levels of improvement; rudimentary statistics
can be introduced to show to them rates of improvement. If their
interests are genuine, which they will be because of their levels of
involvement in relation to their experiences, then they will be very
interested in measuring their success.
A contributing text about teaching standards
by Firestone, Schoor and Monfils provides an excellent scenario where
a teacher encourages inquiry in the statistical analysis field by handing
out M&Ms. She asked students to discover trends in the occurrences
of candies of different colors. The teacher gave each student
a bag of M&Ms and had them create graphs showing the numbers of
each color of candy in the bags; one student was able to extend the
idea to developing mean values, so the teacher extended this boy's concept
to explain statistical basics. She gave the students opportunity
to develop their own scientific learnings, and of course, not lost on
the students is a tasty reward for participating in the learning. (Firestone,
Schoor, Monfils, 1) Breaking learnings into bite-sized tasks makes
them more consumable, but learning is best achieved in the context of
relevant meanings; such as when they develop criteria for their own
Measuring mini-projects for success at
the arrival of each milestone essentially seeks to find what level the
inquiry has satisfied scientific needs to be a valid component of the
accumulated knowledge, or the knowledge tree. Sometimes an inquiry
will be too difficult for the students who are younger. Other
times direct experimentation may have to yield to researched knowledge:
teachers will have to use their discretion in amending the evaluation
process to assure that students remain confident and enthusiastic; success
from the inquiry perspective is always achievable with future mini-projects,
or at future milestones.
Individual Mentoring, Community Learning
While the concept where human capital
is created by separating students into groups by ability has no place
in project science, there is the reality that many, if not most, students
will not graduate from college. For them, the community is their
place; many will likely settle into trades work sooner than college-bound
students will take professional positions. They may have already
settled into a trades future, and they are waiting to graduate from
high school. Or, they may just leave school to start working.
For them, education may work best in community mentoring environments;
they need to develop science that they can take to the workplace; they
need to have an interest in science as, historically, science and math
have been the process by which their futures have been limited.
Science and math have deliberately used to create controlled diversity
in the supply of human capital--cheapened humans. Students thus
affected are not unaware of this; they just unable to counter act it.
(Roberts, Ostman, Leif, 175) To
help them implement science and math in their lives and workplaces,
weather instrumentation is perfect learning; it combines trades skills
with understanding and accuracy. Along with gaining recognition
in the learning community, they can experience recognition in the trades
community which they may soon join. Economic desperation (thought
of as low Synergy), with accompanying dishonesty, has resulted in repressed
local economies in every nation; science in the community can contribute
ideas of honesty with the introduction of scientific accuracy as part
of developing scientific knowledge. As mentoring projects progress
from early inquiry stages to expertness, the instruments themselves,
and the data collected may make the community teams valid parts of the
greater scientific community; satisfying a community requirement from
education: a connection with science.
In an apprenticeship environment, there
should be no separation from the groups working in the schools.
The embedded required learnings, especially math skills, need to be
evaluated at milestones; the apprenticeship projects are experimental
and scientific in purpose. These projects can be initiated with
the confidence that many scientific concepts will be introduced to the
community from the school, the ideas of responsibility and the further
discussion about the social and political realities of hurricanes will
go a long way to flow conceptual understandings into the community.
Interests in life-long learning by families and the community will encourage
attendance in community colleges.
Encapsulating scientific learnings into
mini-experiments are part of building instrumentation. Mentors,
if chosen from workforce, may want to create tools most efficiently,
accidentally excluding student discovery from process. In these
cases, limited budgets may actually be beneficial, by encouraging resourcefulness
on the part of students to create components from cheaply available
materials. Students can take further ownership of projects by
utilizing the web to get information about building projects.
As instruments become sophisticated,
as students rise from novice to expert, instruments may become part
of a network for collecting weather data. In Britain, Royal Meteorological
Society scientists network with schools (BBC Weather); amateur networking
through Internet very likely already exists. There are socially
organized rescue organizations, especially ham radio clubs, who may
be interested in networking with schools. Still, student projects
need to remain focused on inquiry, and continually need to return to
the development of concept maps to assure the efficacy of group learning;
educators have to structure all the mini-projects around the cyclic
Because learning to learn is the goal,
mentors have to be open to student discovery; they have to be patient
with younger learners. Very likely, mentors, especially if they
are retired educators, may assist in supplying initiating inquiry ideas,
and may already have scaffolding experience to help less confident learners.
Creating scientific instruments as part
of inquiry from available materials, rather than purchasing them at
significant cost, will create enthusiasm among fiscal leaders.
There is a surplus of old schools created by the centralization of school
systems by school boards; they can be utilized, filled with experimentation
equipment, both for measuring weather and exploring other natural sciences.
Local communities already own these structures; abandoned shopping malls
are also legally available to communities; abandoned generally have
huge ceilings, available power, adequate ventilation, strong floors,
Alternative learning occurs in libraries,
museums, at home in home schooling. (Falk,
Here, ownership and self-reliance and fiscal responsibility can combine
with community ownership as existing structures can be revitalized to
be a combination of alternative learning locations with greater community
access at far less expense than museums and libraries, if volunteer
mentors are utilized. Community self-reliance, fiscal responsibility,
activities for kids (and by kids) to develop local social status as
part of community. Once again, existing top-down organizations
have to be avoided; the focus needs to be on the students and their
projects rather than the organizational needs of local clubs.
The ownership must belong to the project groups; the potential for the
expansion of social control may be too much of a temptation for existing
community groups, they may attempt to hijack the process for their own
social control purposes. In project science, as with all education,
the student is the boss; students have "full veto power,"
and they have the ability to create and destroy science; it is, after
all, their education. (Polman, 135) They must be given every opportunity to understand
the benefits of science education and be shown that the benefits will
help them immensely in their lives.
The Science of Hurricanes
At some point, it will become apparent
to students that hurricanes are the focus topic; they will become aware
of the importance of understanding hurricanes. This will very
likely happen at a point when they can, probably as a group, psycologically
accept the levels of hurricane ferocity and the nature of hurricane
destruction. The teachers and community may need time to acclimate
to the ideas; but the acceptance of the reality of hurricanes is necessary
to a community that may experience full-on weather.
Technically defined: hurricanes are "cyclones
of tropical origin with wind speeds of at least 118 kilometers per hour;
they are large, rotating storm, where the winds move around a relatively
calm center called the 'eye'." Each storm usually has a life span
of several days." (Canadian Hurricane Center) The hurricane
season, the period most likely to experience hurricanes, is from June
to November in North America; in the North Atlantic, it is September.
Hurricanes, like all storms, are born
of low pressure; air rushes to a low-pressure area, to even the pressure.
Usually low-pressure areas are warm and, therefore, create updrafts.
Over the ocean, warm water also warms
the air above it, adding to the updrafts. When the mass of raising
warm air reaches heights with significantly lower pressures, the air
expands lowering the temperature. The water vapor in the air changes
state; the air mass becomes supersaturated with cooler water molecules
as in fog, or breath on a cold day. Collisions between the suspended
water molecules in the supersaturated air mass joins them together to
form droplets. The water molecules scatter sunlight (and moonlight)
giving these newly formed clouds their whitish appearance. Also,
tiny particles in the atmosphere, such as dust and smoke, are attractive
to water molecules; the combining of water and particles in the clouds
helps initiate the droplet forming process. If clouds become very
cold, the water vapor changes state to ice rather than water; rather
than forming as raindrops, the molecules become ice crystals to be turned
into rain drops as they fall to altitudes with warmer temperatures where
they melt. As droplets get heavy by colliding and combining, gravity
pulls them to earth, creating turbulence in the surrounding air, causing
more water molecules to collide forming droplets. The water vapor
molecules, when they form droplets, release the warmth they absorbed
when they evaporated from the ocean surface. As the droplets fall
by force of gravity, the remaining air mass rises with the heat left
by the condensed and now descending water molecules. The rising
of the remaining air creates powerful updrafts, increasing the size
of the clouds, pulling up more water from the ocean surface in the form
of vapor. Water molecules may change state between liquid, gas,
and ice many times depending on the wind activity and differing conditions
within in the clouds before the molecules become heavy enough to fall
to the Earth. The air molecules that surrounded the water in the
fog-like cloud suspension now have the warmth that was released by the
condensing water vapor, as well as the original warmth from the warm
ocean from where the water first evaporated. As water droplets
fall, the remaining air, still a suspension of water and gaseous air,
rises. The rising air develops into powerful updrafts of wind.
Ingredients needed for a Hurricane
Hurricane forming: http://thinman.com/studies
Creating hurricane conditions: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/HAW2
Hurricane building strength: http://www.nasa.gov/mov
When conditions are right to create huge
updrafts of air, the spinning of the earth has the effect of starting
a swirl in the clouds; this is called the Coriolis effect. As
increasing amounts of warmth are added to this swirling cloud mass,
a tropical storm is born; in many places they are called cyclones.
If conditions are just right, the storm will absorb increasing amounts
of water; meteorologists say the storm pumps water into itself, adding
to its size and power. Only a journey north to cooler waters,
or a landfall, cutting off the water supply, can slow the storm building
process when a tropical storm reaches hurricane levels. Rising
air moves outward from the top of the hurricane to make the whorl of
clouds that can extend for hundreds of miles.
Coriolis Force: Objects are deflected
to one side because of the Earth's rotation. The object is going
straight, but the Earth moves beneath it, making it move to one side.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the Coriolis Force deflects objects to the
right. Sending a ball rolling on a spinning merry-go-ground will
demonstrated this deflection.
Coriolis demonstration: http://archive.ncsa.uiuc.edu
At, or very near, the center of the hurricane
is the eye. When the eye of a hurricane passes over a region the
winds decrease to just a gentle breeze, is surprisingly calm and the
rain stops. Someone standing in the eye may even be able to see
the sun during the day or the stars at night. The eye wall is
the area surrounding the eye; the heaviest rain, strongest winds and
worst turbulence are normally within the eye wall. As the center
of the storm, the eye is the lowest pressure area, the low pressure
pulls water upward, forming of slight dome of water under the eye.
This rise of water combines with other effects to create the storm surges
that create floods when the storm reaches land. Waves of ocean
water converge under the eye creating even worse conditions for boats.
Creating a hurricane eye: Students can
observe spiraling in the tub, when they open the drain. There
are significant differences between a hurricane's spinning and the whirlpool
created by the water; in a hurricane the motion is upward, not down
the drain, and that the Coriolis force is far less significant in this
experiment; most likely, physical features of the tub will determine
spin direction. Also, a fun experiment is to fill a plastic bottle
with water and insert the mouth of it into an empty bottle with a slightly
larger mouth. As the water transfers between bottles, dramatic
spinning is created. Physically, the spinning more resembles a
waterspout, which is only a distant cousin of a hurricane, waterspouts;
a waterspout is the offshore sibling of the tornado. Vorticity
is the term for the measure of local rotation in a fluid flow: the spin
of a fluid.
As almost a joke, there are safe and
unsafe halves of hurricanes: navigable, and unnavigable. When
I was a young sailor, I was voyaging with a seasoned crew on a big schooner.
We experienced Agnes, a then famous hurricane that traveled unusually
far north--fortunately we were ashore at the time and the boat was safely
docked at the traditional sailing fishermen's haven of Point Judith,
Rhode Island. Being safe, we chuckled about the safe and unsafe
terminology for hurricane sections. Since hurricanes can move
in a linear direction as fast as, say school buses, and since they spin
much faster, often at the speed, of a small plane, half the hurricane
(at a point normal, or perpendicular, to the directional path) will
likely have an effective speed of an airplane minus the speed of a school
bus. Likewise, the other half, the unsafe half, may experience
a speed of the airplane plus the school bus (at its respective normal
point). More commonly, the worst part of a hurricane is referred
as the right front quadrant (RFQ), especially in relation to landfalls.
Hurricanes weaken and die as they lose
their source of warmth from the ocean, along with needed water vapor.
Hurricanes suffer a quicker death over land, starved for vapor; or slowly
as the move north into the mid-latitudes, more from heat loss.
The size of the circulation usually expands the speed of the maximum
wind decreases, and the distribution of winds, rainfall, and temperatures
become more homogenous.
Wind is produced by heat and pressure.
A part of the atmosphere that has lower pressure will suck in air molecules
with force that creates wind. The Earth's surface, made of land
and water, gets heated unevenly by the Sun. Sometimes this is
because of the angle of the Sun with respect to latitude, the cause
of seasonal change; sometimes it is because of the nature of the surface
of the Earth. Differing temperatures cause air to rise and fall.
As air masses travel as a result of pressures and temperature around
the world, they form predictable currents of air.
Students can measure wind much as scientists
do. With small paper cups (3 or 4), straws for arms, and base
with a low friction support, such as a pin, an anemometer can be build
quickly and cheaply. The speed of the anemometer will be proportional
to the speed of the wind; students can easily see that different rotational
speeds relate to different wind speeds.
The wind speed can be estimated with
simple geometry, if the students can count the number of rotations of
the spinning section to determine the RPM. They would also have
to measure the width of the spinner and calculate its circumference,
and with that determine the speed of the motions of the cups.
Direction is also important to measuring
wind; students can easily build a compass the way the early navigators
did using a magnetized needle resting on a light object floating in
sophisticate the anemometer, a very small direct current generator might
be constructed by attaching fragments of super magnets to the spinner
and measuring flux in the field it creates as it moves. This would
bring the experiment instrumentation closer to expert, drawing in other
disciplines along with them more required learnings.
My experience with Hurricane Agnes, as
a child, was that the wind was coming from everywhere. Clearly
I was experiencing turbulence. Within the observation of turbulence
is much gaseous molecular study.
A sophisticated cloud experiment involving
the pressure, temperature and particulate contributors to cloud formation
can be done easily. One way is to fill a 2-liter bottle one-third
full of warm water and drop a lit match into the bottle. By squeezing
the bottle, increasing the internal pressure, cloud material will appear
inside the bottle. Decreasing the pressure will cause the cloud
to disappear. Another, more controllable version of the same experiment
would use a much larger stiff container and a rubber cover such as a
stretched latex glove.
Students can easily build a sophisticated
psychrometer, though its functionality may elude them.
In such a project, two thermometers are
taped to a surface where one has wet gauze tied to its reservoir end.
A fan blows on the thermometers until the temperature of the gauze covered
thermometer stops falling. A number is derived by subtracting
the temperature reading of the gauze-covered thermometer from the reading
on the other one. That number, along with the actual temperature
(from the dry bulb thermometer) is used with the help of a table to
determine the level of humidity in the atmosphere.
Air is commonly thought of as a column
when discussing air pressure. Air is kept on the Earth by gravitational
attraction; the molecules of air in the column are pulled down on top
of each other. The greatest pressure is at the bottom of the column
because the bottom is where downward pressure of all the molecules higher
in the column is summated. While air pressure columns may be difficult
to measure in a classroom, water pressure changes significantly in short
columns. There are similarities between liquids and gasses with
respect to pressure and motion, and there are also interactions between
gases and liquids that can be used to explore weather related physics
with opportunities for adding more required learnings.
To measure air pressure, a barometer
can be built from a jar covered with an impervious flexible membrane.
A straw, with a toothpick at the end, glued to the membrane surface
will rise and fall with pressure changes in the atmosphere, and can
be calibrated with an index card securely mounted.
Another version, easier to calibrate,
can be built with long glass tube sealed at one end, a beaker, and colored
alcohol. The glass tube is filled with the alcohol, as is the
beaker. The open end of the gas tube is inserted into the beaker.
There will be air at the top of the tube; obviously the entire device
has to be secured. The height of liquid in the column will change
Calibrating these devices with respect
to weather conditions creates a relationship between weather and ambient
air pressure. The first device is harder to use, but more portable;
hence a better project for expert design improvements.
Convection and radiation are components
of heat and temperature useful for understanding weather. The
sun is, of course, radiative, and convection is how heat transfer is
described in weather itself. The updrafts that create clouds are
thought of as upwardly moving columns and are called convection cells.
The opposite movement is called subsidence.
Thermometers are so available and accurate
that building one will not necessarily encourage expertness; but students
still may learn by building one. A thermometer can be built from
a pipette and a test tube with water in it with a snug stopper connecting
them. Air can be removed from the pipette by inverting the device
and tapping the pipette.
From the shore, water seems to move in
waves towards you. While waves move toward the shore, water moves
but stays very much where it is.
Motion of waves: http://www.coastal.udel.edu
Students can make waves in water by blowing on the water; a bent straw might be helpful. Stronger blowing would presumably create bigger waves. Energy is transferred from moving air to water; if they use a clear container, students can see this, and possibly measure the waves in relation to blowing. Students can also see that the waves move, but water remains more or less in the same place. If you watch closely, you'll see that the water stays mostly in the same area; it's the disturbance caused by your breath that's moving across the water.
These small waves would, nature, be first stage of ocean wave formation. In a small lake on a windy day, students can see waves moving across the lake in the same direction as the wind. During a windy day at the lake, students can see choppy erratic waves combine to form bigger waves.
The cyclic motion of water particles in waves changes with water depth, and, as waves increase in height, the water particles do move forward a little with each cycle; this forward motion is called the Strokes drift.
Wind speed is an obvious influence over waves; also the length time wind has blown over an area and size of the area the wind blows over. The length of a windy area is called fetch. Waves are measured by height from the very top (crest) to bottom (trough);
length between peaks (or crests); steepness by angle (or slope) between crest and trough; and period, the length time between the passage of crests over a fixed point.
These factors influence each other; a smaller fetch will limit the size of the biggest waves irrespective of the length of time the wind has been blowing.
Waves build and destroy beaches; beaches tend to be built slowly over time, and removed by bad conditions.
Beach building waves, called constructive
waves, come from conditions producing a long fetch; they have low height
and a long wavelength and a low frequency. As they approach the
beach, they rise slowly, creating gentle swash, or water flowing up
the beach after a wave arrives. Water percolates slowly through
the beach material, usually sand, allowing for little backwash or the
return motion that pulls material off of the beach. Material moves
up the beach forming ridges called or berms.
When conditions cause a shorter fetch,
peaks are higher and the wave motion has a higher frequency (as in a
hurricane) destructive waves form. The already high peaks of these waves
are driven higher as the wave approach the beach, causing them break
dramatically, disrupting the beach material. There is little forward
motion of the waves, the motion is mostly vertical, and the resulting
backwash rapidly pulls off material and collides with the swash of the
next wave to arrive, inhibiting the arriving wave from its ability move
material up the beach.
Storm surge is an important topic in hurricane discussion; it results from wind, waves and the inverse barometric effect that causes the dome of water that rises under the eye of the hurricane. When these contributing forces approach the shore, the effects of the waves and the inverse barometric effect water rise become more dramatic. A high tide can also contribute to storm surge, as can shallow coastal water at the point of landfall. The worst storm surge conditions happen when the right front quadrant (RFQ) hits land before the rest of the hurricane.
The storm surge effect includes waves
and flooding. The other contributor to flooding is rain.
Effectively, the hurricane becomes a huge pump sucking up water into
its mass though low barometric pressure near the center, and dumping
it again as rain.
(Canadian Hurricane Center)
The success of my Hurricane Katrina research
and political action group showed how a valid clearinghouse operated
in a group format could actually correct ideas in perception to the
point of creating scientific reality from social constructs. In
working with adults, as different from children, there may be political
motives behind the development of misconceptions; self-named political
representatives may be inserting lies to disrupt the knowledge building
process for completely unobvious reasons. This may even occur
in-groups of children, though the disruptive behavior, in my experience,
can always be directly traced back to a family member, usually a parent.
Through my experiences in the Katrina forum, and my analysis of social
issues, disruption of the truth-seeking process seemed to be the common
thread to all conflicts between group members. The reasons behind
the disruptions are difficult to understand; it is possible that the
ideas behind community and knowledge building constructs are produced
by schisms in perception--not misconceptions, but the product of unchecked
thinking disorders. In my experiences in construction environments,
bipolar behaviors in managers, and self appointed straw bosses, often
influenced the working group into doing dangerous activities.
From what I have learned, it is nearly
impossible to separate the community from the educational process, though
school boards often operate in defiance of community desires.
I studying weather misconceptions, we learn from many researchers that
children often explain clouds, rain, and lightening purely in terms
of God. The existence of God in weather perceptions clearly comes
from the community. They succeed in pushing God to a higher level,
allowing them to accept the individual causation of weather. Some
of the areas hardest hit by the extreme weather of hurricanes (and tornadoes)
are in the Bible belt; as I have learned, the ideas of God in relation
to science cannot be ignored in these communities. Ideally, students
raised with fundamental religious beliefs will put their conceptions
of God in a place where He does not conflict with weather concepts and
required learnings. Again, in my experience, I don't think God
will mind. Very likely, the socially scientific group learning
organization will help students have a tolerant approach to others'
views of creationistic or orginistic ideas; a goal of nearly all spiritual
leaders in the world.
In terms of hurricanes, it was only with
Hurricane Andrew in the early 1990s that trauma from extremely destructive
weather was professionally observed in children. The
American Psychiatric Association, the APA, refers to Hurricane Andrew
as being an early locus for the study of trauma in children. They
state there that they found that "about 30 percent of the Florida
children demonstrated moderate to severe levels of PTSD one year after
the hurricane." Years later, "40 percent of them continued
to report moderate to severe PTSD symptoms." (APA Monitor)
Moderate symptoms are life altering; severe symptoms are nearly paralyzing.
Trauma has always existed, yet the trauma
disorder is only two decades old as a diagnosis. The
APA admits that only recently has the experience of trauma has been
professionally recognized as a threat to children; previously their
psychiatrists believed that children were unaffected by traumatic experiences,
or forgot them. Now, with the full implementation of the Information
Society through the Internet, anecdotal information has arrived in the
form of individual testimonials from teacher on discussion forums.
Communities may want to strengthen psychological knowledge in their
communities by sharing their own research, as well as their own experiential
constructs, much as middle school students can develop and share weather
Teachers and Hurricane Katrina
Lacking personal experience with hurricane
disasters, and not having as contacts teachers and younger students
from hurricane prone areas, I relied on a Texas educators' forum where
teachers discussed their experiences with students in the wake of the
Katrina hurricane and New Orleans flood evacuation.
Web forums have been a big part of my
life; my Katrina forum is the basis of an Information Society study.
Prior to the invention of the World Wide Web, we technologists used
mailing lists to develop the Internet; we used the Internet to build
more Internet. We used the information super-highway to build
more highway. Generally, on moderated forums and mailing lists,
members are genuine in their contributions; interactions tend to be
short-lived so there is little time to develop personal conflict.
Like a form of scaffolding, much is hidden during web interactions,
personal conflicts rarely arise. Most Internet discussions are
short-lived; once the members have expressed themselves, activity dies
down and the discussion threads become a useful reference. Calm
well ordered groups are good sources of information; problems in discussion
groups will usually be obvious. Disruptive members of discussion
forums may damage otherwise valuable discussions yet the forum, as a
whole, may still stand as excellent source for locally gathered information.
(Katrina Education Resources)
Texas middle school teacher Vanessa posted
first, describing a student, Susan, who "unexpectedly appeared"
in her classroom two days after Katrina; she had not notified beforehand
about Susan's status. "I found myself stumbling unawares
into the sensitive nature of her arrival, in front of the entire class,"
Vanessa said Susan began classes with
"attentiveness and diligence." However, Vanessa "noticed
her progressively going downhill." Susan explained to Vanessa
that she was overwhelmed by the stress of adapting to her new surrounds;
she had been evacuated to a household of twelve. She became "increasingly
apathetic" and made no attempt to do school work. The school
counselor suggested Vanessa call Susan's home.
Vanessa said she felt she "made
a blunder in my approach to Susan" when she "pulled a brief
excerpt of President Bush's televised Sept. 15th New Orleans address
for the purpose of analyzing with students the President's use of rhetorical
strategy and literary device." Vanessa recalled that Susan
started muttering "angry comments" under her breath.
But, in the end of the class, there was a positive effect: Susan opened
up and broke her apathetic silence when she corrected Vanessa's
"pronunciation of a parish in the President's speech--the particular
parish had been her home" and recounted "memories of her home
after the destruction." Susan made a positive turn; the class
discussion helped break "Susan's shell."
"Since then," Vanessa commented,
"Susan's efforts have been improving, but they are really hit and
miss." "I am really at a loss as to what I ought to
expect of her-- emotionally, academically, behaviorally--- everything.
I would really enjoy some feedback," she continued.
Anita, another Texas teacher replied:
"It is difficult to know what to expect from our students who are
evacuees. Some were more traumatized than others and each with his/her
own set of situations. This is my thought on this however. Be patient.
As it sounds with your student, there is a lot of anger and unresolved
emotions. Be a listener."
"Again," Anita continued, "your
student is coming to you with dialogue. Maybe a good outlet would be
some journaling." She went on, "allow her to show you
her creativity. Her mind is not education at the moment, and it is showing
in her lack of effort. I have one student like that and I just talk
with her when I can about her situation." "She
failed for me the first six weeks," but Anita said "I don't
focus so much on pressuring her about her grades as much as talk with
her. I did give her a different writing assignment than everyone else
which she seemed to be interested in - her experience with Hurricane
Vanessa especially liked "the ideas
about journaling and offering the student some creative outlets."
Vanessa admitted that was "trying to get her to make up a major
assignment that the students had done before her arrival and which we
have been using in class for weeks, but I think now that Hurricane Katrina
was not fair." "I think I'm getting some good
brainstorms about a creative project that the student could substitute
for an out-of-class project we have underway."
Another teacher, Lori, recounted her
own hurricane experiences when she was a middle school on an army base
in Biloxi: "We had to evacuate twice," she said, "The
idea of a journal is wonderful. I think the key is gaining the
trust so she feels you aren't going to disappear like the rest of her
world did." "You may have to physically go get her to
bring her in for help, or assign a buddy to do so and encourage the
friendship." "Spend some time with casual conversation.
You may find out more of what is going on with her by reading between
the lines. Gaining her confidence and trust will be the key. With
this, will come the request for help."
Teacher Debbie reported more than apathy
problems, the hurricane evacuees in their middle school classes were
breaking down in significant ways. One from New Orleans was "in
the crying stage and weeps at the first sign of any conflict."
Another was from Port Arthur, which was hit by hurricane Rita, yet experienced
an orderly evacuation in contrast to New Orleans. He was in shock
and reacting with anger, and was continually starting fights.
"I find myself being a referee all day with discipline issues,"
Teacher Juan reported that his evacuee
students had "friends or family members with disabilities that
they and their friends are greatly concerned after what happened with
Katrina and Rita." He wanted to know about "any good
talks or lessons that can be given to help address these issues and
help ease these concerns?"
A reply he got was from George: "Be
very careful. If you aren't trained to deal with students that
are facing depression or are experiencing emotional trauma it's best
to send them to the counselor." He went on, "You're
there to teach them the class you're signed up for not to solve all
their problems. It sounds like you're trying to help but be careful
you don't cause more stress and also problems for yourself."
George clearly did not give a helpful
answer, yet his response is helpful in understanding much of what is
wrong with teaching today. It reminds me of resistance by many
teachers clinging to didactic methods rather than moving towards problem
solving as mentioned by Firestone,
Schoor and Monfils. I found
similar responses to requests for materials for teaching critical inquiry
in science on other forums for teachers. These types of responses
are so similar that it seems as if the same person were making them.
Bonnie Shapiro would praise the concerns
and experiences of all the teachers (except George) as they are empathetically
trying to assess and resolve Hurricane trauma issues. (Shapiro, p 128)
A careful analysis of the discussion implies that the Texas schools
the teachers represent are fairly advanced in comparison to the New
Orleans schools of the evacuee children. It seemed that academic
expectations for the traumatized children in a "sense of fairness"
for the regular children was actually triggering problems. By
giving the children individual and expressive projects such as writing
and art creation, teachers helped alleviate their stress. Since
most of the 2005 hurricane evacuee children wound-up in Texas schools,
there would have been little opportunity for project science ideas to
be applied as therapy; Texas has completely focused education on high
stakes testing. However, had children been evacuated to Shutesbury,
Massachusetts, there is no doubt that the whole situation would have
been turned around; the children's hurricane experiences would have
become class projects, the evacuees experiences would have become a
source for group recognition and personal pride.
The American Psychiatric Association
states in the previously mentioned article on their web site that "children
who survived Hurricane Hugo in 1989 made pretend trees out of broccoli
at the supper table, then poured gravy all over the 'trees' to mimic
rushing waters ravaging the landscape." They say that issues
surrounding "post-traumatic play illustrate the ongoing and often
unrecognized emotional struggles children experience after witnessing
massive death and destruction." (APA Monitor)
Joan Packer Isenberg and Nancy Quisenberry
have written a meta-collection of references called Play: Essential
for All Children; they cite endless reasons for play in education at
every level. Clearly, since play is fun, it can only help relieve
stress from hurricane disasters. (Isenberg, Quisenberry)
say, "believe that play is necessary for mastering emotional traumas
or disturbances; psychosocialists believe it is necessary for ego mastery
and learning to live with everyday experiences; constructivists believe
it is necessary for cognitive growth; maturationists believe it is necessary
for competence building and for socializing functions in all cultures
of the world; and neuroscientists believe it is necessary for emotional
and physical health, motivation, and love of learning."
"Moreover, play and play
contexts support intrinsic motivation that is driven by positive emotions
(Jensen, 1999). Positive emotions, such as curiosity, generally improve
motivation and facilitate learning and performance by focusing a learner's
attention on the task; negative emotions, such as anxiety, panic, threats,
and stress, generally detract from motivation (Santrock, 2003)."
They purport that "clay,
sand, and mud give children of all ages opportunities to explore changes
in form as they mold the substance (Jenson & Bullard, 2002; Langstaff
& Sproul, 1979). Adding water enables the younger child to observe
changes in the substance and the older child to build and form more
complex shapes. Ample opportunity to explore and experiment with these
substances should be provided."
Children affected by stress and trauma
Yule, an UNESCO researcher and practitioner
who studies (and relieves) trauma among children and families as a result
of disaster situations, shows that the APA figures may be conservative.
In a study based on a sniper attack on a schoolyard, "40%
of the 9-year old children were found to have moderate to severe PTSD
approximately one month after the event." 14 months later,
"74% of the most severely exposed children in the playground still
report moderate to severe levels of PTSD." In cases of sexual
abuse he reports that 100% of children suffer from post traumatic stress
disorder, or PTSD. (Yule1) As research continues, the percentages
of suffering as a result of trauma seem to rise. Awareness also
needs to rise; there may be cases where the majority, if not the entirety,
of classes may show symptoms of trauma.
Yule's recent focus has been on war situations,
and is frequently cited. This first paper I cite is based mostly
on a shipwreck, and its young survivors. Ship wrecks are, of course,
more similar to weather disasters than war.
His work also shows how life for children
can also be a sort of an ongoing in virtually every environment.
He shows that children, without being granted empowerment, with its
related responsibilities, children's growth can be disrupted by diverse
stresses of life. He shows how group learning can benefit all
students, including those who easily succeed, as well as those challenged
by stressful circumstances in life.
Some of the high risk behaviors suffered
by children after war are in fact problems experienced by youth in every
poverty-stricken area in American.
Life for youth without support, it seems,
can be like a war. Should a hurricane landfall on an already stressed
city, as was the case with New Orleans during the Katrina crisis, the
effects would, of course, accumulate.
In a significant sense, Yule's work with children affected by trauma meets the goals set by Hurd for science education (Hurd, 1). Yule uses the same ideas Shapiro developed for successful science teaching, yet project based learning is never mentioned, nor is constructivism. He instead discusses debriefing, a well-used and tested knowledge building. Two nearly identical approaches to group learning--project science and debriefing for children--developed in parallel, presumably unconnected, in unrelated environments.
All normal, empathic, sensitive people
are affected by trauma. The severity of the trauma combined with
social support and the ability of a trauma victim to return to a positive
life will determine how a victim can absorb, or process, the trauma.
"Clinicians," Yule says, "saw
all children's distress as indicating major psychiatric problems,"
when, in reality, children in disaster areas are average children having
normal reactions. (Yule2, 12)
PTSD is a memory-linked affliction; the
mind, after a trauma, can hide, or bury, the experience. But as
memories resurge into the foreground of thought, they re-afflict the
victim. Sometimes this is in the form of memory flashbacks where
the experience is relived as if the person were at a scene of trauma
they initially experienced. Both the experience and the flashbacks
can devastate the mind, as the affects of the memories are as powerful
as strong illicit drugs, or maybe even more so.
If the memories never come to the forefront
of thought, they live maliciously subliminally, causing other mental
disorders. Trauma disorders are not thinking disorders; thinking
disorders typically cause a separation of consciousness from reality
such as extensive paranoia or hallucinations. Trauma disorders
are reality based, and can cause immense mental suffering, yet relief
is available through strong social support and milder anti-depressant
type medications. Extremely severe trauma, especially if untreated,
can lead to thinking disorders, requiring stronger medication and possibly
Part of accepted therapy is to release
the memories from deep consciousness into the thinking arena, so that
they don't languish. Flashback experiences are the release of
the hidden memories occurring in such a way that the relived memories
actually cause many of the problems of trauma disorders, such as depression
and panic disorder. Panic disorder is best described simply as
fear. Medication can quiet the neuro-chemical nature of the flashback
process to reduce the damage it causes; it can also relieve feelings
of unhappiness and fear caused by both the nature of the memories as
well as the effects of trauma on chemical production within brain.
The strategies involved in debriefing
try to reintroduce the experiences of the disaster so as to acclimatize
the children to the realities that have experienced, in a practice called
desensitizing. It is a risky therapy though, as studies have shown
that the reintroduction of the frightening memories, when done too quickly
can cause increased suffering. In one study cited, the therapist
managed to worsen conditions for every trauma victim, well beyond the
suffering of the control group.
Yule developed an extensive strategy
for group design, which, could be used to help suffering any stress,
and if modified only slightly it may be useful in every-day classes:
"As many as 30-50% of children will
show significant symptomatology after experiencing disasters, at least
when carefully assessed." "Sadly," he says, "their
problems are not always recognized by their parents and teachers.
There is only a slow resolution of the problems" and that there
is also "a strong linear relationship between the level of exposure
to life threatening situations and subsequent psychopathology."
Children suffering trauma need to rebuild
their lives, giving themselves skills so as develop ideas of a bright
future after experiencing devastation. They need to grieve loss,
they need to rebuild faith, they need sports and music; they need to
express themselves to reconnect with the events that shaped their lives
in a way that will help them be optimistic.
After the World Trade Center attack in
2001, I gave thought to the condition of humanity with respect to trauma
knowing that the 20th Century has been called the century of war and
destruction. At the last century's beginning, weapons and munitions
became big money makers as steel industry representatives revealed to
each wealthy nation successively the level of weaponry they just sold
to other wealthy nations, revealing also that nation's vulnerabilities.
This strategy assured cyclical increases in the levels of weapons and
paranoia in the world (Mumford). Twice the world exploded in world
war in the last century, and a third world war, this time nuclear, was
narrowly avoided. It appears that continued trauma is part of
the plan for this century as well. Now, smaller forces have been
deliberately inflicting trauma on populations in the apparently unstoppable
strategy of terrorism.
These war issues are only related to
childhood natural disaster trauma in the generalized sense of the affliction
itself. Yet, if you consider an affect by the highly capitalized
industries on the environment of the planet starting about the turn
of the last century, there is actually a more tangible connection.
Highly capitalized industries have been warming of the Earth's atmosphere
measurably since the late 1800s: the effect known as global warming.
Knowledge that hurricanes require heat
to absorb vapor creates a logical intuitive connection between the warming
of the atmosphere and an increase in hurricane severity and occurrence
over the past few years. Global warming is real: the northern
ice cap is melting. Reports from Canadian coastguardsmen about
the sudden navigability of the polar seas are on Canadian TV almost
every day; only a few years ago the polar ice had been a barrier to
foreign maritime intrusion into Canadian waters.
While the jury is still out waiting for
concrete research material proving a connection between hurricanes and
industrially caused global warming, I think the gut feeling is that
the increasing warmth in the atmosphere is warming the oceans, and hence
increasing ocean-bound extreme weather. During my research efforts
on the Katrina disaster aftermath, I noticed that the usual proponents
of military might and industrial capital have been denying the global
warming-hurricane occurrence connection in such a desperate way that
I think they too share the suspicions of a connection.
White, N. (2000) Project-Based Learning
and High Standards at Shutesbury Elementary School. The George Lucas
Educational Foundation. Retrieved
September 11, 2006 from http://www.edutopia.org/php
BBC Weather Centre: (n. d.) Become a
Weather Detective. Retrieved September
11, 2006 from http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather
Canadian Hurricane Centre: Glossary of
Hurricane Terms. (n. d.) Retrieved
September 11, 2006 from http://www.atl.ec.gc.ca
Firestone, W. A., Schorr, R. Y., &
Monfils, L. (2004). The ambiguity of teaching to the test. Mahwah,
NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum & Associates.
Henriques, L (2000). Children's misconceptions about weather: A
review of the literature. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the
National Association of Research in Science Teaching, New Orleans, LA,
April 29. Retrieved September 11, 2006 from http://www.csulb.edu/~lhenriqu
Hurd, P. D. (2000). Transforming middle
school science education; New York: Teachers College Press.
Isenberg, J. P., & Quisenberry, N.
(2002). Play: Essential for all children. A position paper of the Association
for Childhood Education International. Retrieved December 3, 2002, from www.udel.edu/bateman/acei
M., Erika (1998). How do clouds affect weather. Timber Ridge Magnet School Online Science Fair. Retrieved September 11, 2006 from
Roberts, Douglas A. ed., and Ostman,
Leif ed. (1998). Problems of Meaning in Science Curriculum. New York: Teachers College Press
Shapiro, B.L. (1994). What children bring to light: A constructivist
perspective on children's learning in science. New York: Teachers College
Yule, W., & Udwin, O. (1991). Screening child survivors for post-traumatic
stress disorders: Experiences from the "Jupiter" sinking. British Journal of Clinical
Psychology, 30, 131-138. Retrieved September 11, 2006 from http://adc.bmjjournals.com/cgi