CSTA Classroom Science


Hurricanes just keep coming! This is hurricane season, so hurricanes will be in the news for the next couple months. Kids in California have likely never experienced a hurricane, but they all have stories to tell about big storms they’ve experienced and wonderings about where they come from and what drives them.

This is a unit I wrote to help connect the 6th grade physical science standards about heat energy with the Earth science standards about weather, climate, and the water cycle. As kids try to build their model of hurricanes as complex systems, The unit focuses on the crosscutting concept of Systems. It has some cool mapping activities to look for patterns in data about hurricanes, an interactive water cycle model, and a simplified lab to show that water has a high heat capacity. The highlight is where students try to “engineer” their own hurricane system in a container, complete with circling winds, rain, and maybe even snow! I made my first ever TikTok to show how the model works: https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMRpATsWK/

Here’s the unit: Hurricane! I hope your students like it and it inspires some great questions and models.

The unit began as a lesson by the 6th grade team at Desert Springs Middle School- Megan Fri, Jennifer Byzewski, BethAnn Thornhill, and Margaret Anderson. Dr David Polcyn helped  to add resources and create the current lesson. The hurricane in a jar demo was introduced to me by Dr. Susan Gomez Zwiep and Robert Sheriff. Philip Hudec took the hurricane model to another level. Thanks to all the teachers who taught the unit and gave feedback.  



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