Tag: hurricane science for kids

STEM Friday #Kidlit: How Could We Harness a Hurricane?

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.


You can buy or build an anemometer. There are instructions on how to make an anemometer using muffin tins on the Growing with Science website, or one using paper cups at Education.com.

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?

Related Resources:

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)
ISBN-10: 1633222462
ISBN-13: 978-1633222465

Disclosure: This book was provided by Quarto Kids for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

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?


  • 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.)


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.)


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.