Today for STEM Friday we are featuring a 2018 Best STEM Book K-12 (National Science Teachers Association and the Children's Book Council): How Could We Harness a Hurricane? by Vicki Cobb.
Hurricanes have certainly been in the news. This middle grade title is for kids who are looking for a deeper understanding of extreme weather. It not only explains what a hurricane is, but also offers discussions about whether we can stop hurricanes from forming, whether we can harness their energy, and whether we should we even try to "mess with Mother Nature."
What I love about it is that it's filled with hands-on experiments for those kids who learn by doing. For example, there's an experiment to show how hot water flows through cold water (We did a similar, but less complicated experiment years ago).
You can get a good idea about what the book covers in this book trailer:
How Could We Harness a Hurricane? asks some difficult questions and penetrates into the science of big weather. It is perfect for older kids who want to seriously learn about hurricanes.
Hurricane Science Activity for Kids
How do meteorologists figure out how to categorize hurricanes?
They use the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, which uses wind speed.
It seems like we've put hurricanes into categories forever, but it has been only about 45 years. The scale was developed in 1971 and introduced to the general public in 1973. It was developed by Herbert Saffir, an engineer, and Robert Simpson, who was a meteorologist and director of the U.S. National Hurricane Center. The only factor taken into consideration is how fast the winds are blowing.
How do the meteorologists measure wind speeds in hurricanes? These days pilots fly specially-equipped planes into the storm and drop instruments called dropsones.
Public domain illustration from NASA retrieved at Wikimedia
The dropsonde has GPS capability so the scientists who monitor the data it transmits can calculate how fast and in what direction the wind is carrying it.
On the ground, we use a device called an anemometer to measure the wind speed.
Take your equipment outside. Record the wind speed at different temperatures and different times of the day. Is it easy to measure? How does wind speed change?
Check with local weather reports to see if your results match what is posted. Why might they be similar or different?
You can also experiment with mini-hurricanes on the surface of bubbles (parental supervision needed.)
How cool is that?
- Teaching Hurricane Harvey Resources and Lesson Ideas from The New York Times (extensive)
- Effects of hurricanes under the water in the ocean in our Marine Science post
- Shapes of buildings and hurricane winds activity
Looking for more children's books about weather? Visit our growing list at Science Books for Kids.
Age Range: 9 - 12 years
Publisher: Seagrass Press (August 1, 2017)
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