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Helping Secondary School Students Understand Climate Change

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In response to Hurricane Sandy, which devastated Long Island, New York, I have been working with teacher education students at Hofstra University to develop lessons secondary school teachers can use to help middle school and high school students understand global climate change, how hurricanes develop, and how young people can be involved in their communities as environmental educators and activists and can support people whose lives were dislocated and "responders." Some of these ideas were discussed in an earlier Huffington Post blog.

Amanda Shirreff, a science education student at Hofstra University who plans to teach biology in high school, prepared a webquest housed at that is very effective for teaching about hurricanes. She targets middle school students but I feel it is appropriate for students in grades 5 to 12. Amanda gave me permission to post it so that it gets widespread use and I highly recommend it. Students are asked to become meteorologists who prepare a presentation on hurricanes for the town's mayor.

Welcome: Hurricane WebQuest
Description: Students will be researching information about hurricanes and creating a information report about hurricanes and how to prepare for one.
Grade Level: 6-8
Curriculum: Science
Keywords: hurricane, environment, disaster
Author: Amanda Shirreffs

1. Hurricanes have made a large impact on our lives in the past couple of years and it seems that we are not as informed on them as we probably should be. Since you are one of our best local meteorologists, the Mayor has asked you to prepare an informative presentation to the town about hurricanes and how we can be prepared for them.

2. Your task is to research all there is to know about hurricanes so that you can help the residents of your town become more knowledgeable on hurricanes and be prepared if another one strikes soon. You must search the web to find out what causes the formation of a hurricane, what fuels the hurricane, what the different levels of a hurricane are, and what influences the path of a hurricane. You must also give some tips on how to prepare for a hurricane.

3. Hurricane Research. What causes and fuels a hurricane? The first thing you must do is fine out what causes a hurricane and what fuels it. This will give you some good basic information you will need for your presentation. The webquest links students to NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), a University of Illinois website, the National Weather Service, and National Geographic websites. These sites help students to understand how scientists measure the levels and plot their paths.

4. Hurricane Preparedness. Based on recommendations from FEMA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other websites, students suggest ideas for people who live in at-risk regions to prepare for future hurricanes.