Tracking a Hurricane

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Science, Earth and Space Science

Grade 5- 8


Students will track a hurricane to simulate what meteorologists do.


Cut out the transparency of the hurricane shape. Mark a copy of the Hurricane Map with the locations of the complete data to create an answer sheet.
Tell the students that it is September 3 at 6:00 a.m. and information about a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean near the Bahamas has just been received. The hurricane has been named Sam. Place the map transparency on the overhead. Find the coordinates for Hurricane Sam (20° N 64° W) and then, stick a dot on this location. Show the students how to find the coordinates as you do so. Put the transparency of the hurricane shape over the dot so that its center is over the dot. Let the students know that at this point, it has been decided that a hurricane warning and evacuation order will be sent to both the Bahamas and Dominican Republic. Show where these are located on the map.
Explain to the students that they are going to be meteorologists working at a hurricane center and following the progress of Hurricane Sam. Divide the students into six groups and provide each group a copy of the map, data pages, and six adhesive dots. Have them read the data and see that it is updated every 12 hours. Tell them to use the technique you showed them and plot the progress of the hurricane on their maps. Tell them to mark each new data on the map in pencil first and then, place the dot over it. Monitor the groups at first to be sure they understand what to do and are sharing the responsibilities.
Because students mark the new location each time, they should decide what action they will take such as, order evacuations or give only warnings. Discuss with them the consequences of giving evacuation orders as opposed to warnings.
As the students work, plot the seven hurricane locations on the transparency, using the answer map prepared earlier. Discuss their answers for the warnings they gave as the hurricane progressed. These will vary with the groups. Lead the students in a final analysis of the hurricane warnings they gave. Help them understand how difficult this is in real life situations.


  • seven copies and a transparency of page 43
  • overhead projector
  • small red self-adhesive dots
  • transparency copy of hurricane shape on right
  • copy of the pages 44 and 45

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