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 by hurricanes.  

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 of hurricanes.  

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 learnings.   

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 level.   

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 and study. 

Knowledge Organization 


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 learning. 

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 and Humanists. 

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 understanding. 

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 culture.   (White) 

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 map. 

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 success. 

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 development process. 

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.   

Weather Instrumentation

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, and parking. 

Alternative learning occurs in libraries, museums, at home in home schooling. (Falk, p 171) 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/middle_school_science/Birth_of_a_hurricanex2.swf 

Creating hurricane conditions: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/HAW2/pdf/canelab.htm 

Hurricane building strength: http://www.nasa.gov/mov/49983main_cloud.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/Cyberia/DVE/coriolis/coriolis.mov 

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 water. 

To further 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. 

Creating Clouds

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.  

Measuring Humidity

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. 

Table: http://thinman.com/studies/middle_school_science/relative_humidity_table.html 

Air Pressure

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 measurably; again,  

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/faculty/rad/linearplot.html 

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. 

Hurricane Terms (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. 


Hurricane Andrew

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 knowledge. 

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," she said.   

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 Katrina." 

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," Debbie said. 

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) 

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.

From Yule:


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 hospitalization. 

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." (Yule1) 

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. 

The Future

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/article.php?id=Art_182 

BBC Weather Centre: (n. d.) Become a Weather Detective. Retrieved September 11, 2006 from http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/weatherwise/activities/weatherstation/ 

Canadian Hurricane Centre: Glossary of Hurricane Terms. (n. d.) Retrieved September 11, 2006 from http://www.atl.ec.gc.ca/weather/hurricane/hurricanes9.html 

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/NARST2000.htm 

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/playpaper.htm. 

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 Press. 

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/content/full/archdischild;80/2/107 

Yule, W. (September 2002). Alleviating the Effects of War and Displacement on Children. Traumatology, Vol. 8, No. 3. Retrieved September 11, 2006 from http://mailer.fsu.edu/~cfigley/pubs/V8I3EdNote_Final.pdf#search=%22Traumatology%2C%20Vol.%208%2C%20No.%203%20(September%202002)%22