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Inside Hurricanes

Our Weekend Science Fun is inspired by the book Inside Hurricanes by Mary Kay Carson. The book is reviewed is at Wrapped in Foil.

We were excited by the story of a unique dome-shaped beach home that survived when Hurricane Ivan hit Pensacola Beach, Florida in 2004. The owner had designed it so that winds blew around it and that storm surges could pass under. It turned out that the home with an interesting design passed the hurricane test. We decided to try out some of these ideas on our own.

Activity:  Does building shape influence level of damage by hurricane-force winds?

Gather:

  • computer paper
  • access to a computer and printer
  • tape or glue
  • scissors
  • hairdryer, to supply "hurricane winds"

First we will make structures of three different shapes:  rectangular, circular and a pyramid. (See photograph below.)

Pyramid

Go to PaperToys.com and print out the Great Pyramid pattern. Cut it out and assemble. Tape or glue tab.

Paper House - Rectangular

Start with a piece of computer paper.


(If you have difficulty seeing these instructions, let me know.)

Circular

Cut another sheet of computer paper roughly in half lengthwise. Lay both layers on top of one another (we're trying to keep the weight of each house roughly the same). Bring the ends together to form a cylinder and tape or glue to hold.

Predict which of these shapes can withstand wind the best.

Find a flat surface that is near an electrical outlet, so you can plug in the hairdryer. Now place a penny or other marker on the flat surface. Rest one of the buildings on it. Plug in the hairdryer. If possible record how fast and/or how far the building travels when you blow the hairdryer on it. Try to stand a consistent distance from the building with the hairdryer. Repeat with the other buildings, making sure to place them on the same mark each time.

If you aren't seeing any differences between the buildings, try lowering the setting on the hairdryer and/or standing farther away.

Extensions:  Try modifying the shape of the building, changing the weight of the paper you use to construct the buildings, or changing the speed of the hairdryer.

Photograph from NASA Images

Isn't it fun when reading a book makes you want to try out something yourself?

More about Inside Hurricanes:

It is part of the Inside Series
Publisher: Sterling
Published: October 2010
Age range: from 8 to 12
48 pages (has 10 fold-out pages)
ISBN: 1-4027-7780-9
ISBN13: 9781402777806

This book was provided for review.

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