This activity provides an interesting way to give students practice with plotting on a coordinate plane and using latitude/longitude. It uses real-time weather data; in this case hurricanes which are likely to be in the news.
Materials: Other than internet access, you only need the Hurricane tracking chart which can be printed off the web. Note latitude and longitude are given along the sides and a grid across the map will make it easier to plot locations.
Follow the track of the hurricane each day. There are several web sites you can use to do so. For this activity, you only need the lat/long of the hurricane. You may also wish students to see the size of the hurricane so they realize it extends quite a long ways beyond that one point (and its affects extend out quite a ways as well). The lat/long given should represent the center of the eye.
You can also check the forecast. Plot the forecast positions on the day you start. As you plot the progress of the hurricane see how the track compares with that original forecast. To find the forecast positions, see the "Discussion" from:
- How did the forecast compare to the actual track of the hurricane?
- How does the uncertainty in hurricane forecasts affect people who have to decide whether to order an evacuation? people who live on the coast?
- Ask the students a couple days before landfall, what they would do if they lived along the coast and why. Obviously if a forced evacuation was ordered, they would not have a choice. However, if they could make their own decision would they risk staying or take the safe choice and leave? Do they think that the local government should be able to force people to evacuate or should it be each family's choice?
- This is a good activity to accompany the Weather Eye Hurricanes lesson in which students role play different members of the community each of whom has input into the decision of whether to evacuate or not. I thought this was an excellent lesson on decision making and helps students to better understand all of the factors that enter into a decision to evacuate.