How Tornadoes Affect People


Students will learn how tornadoes impact communities and develop a safety plan.

Engage students with a first-person narrative written by a tornado researcher.

  • In Eight Emotions While Tracking One Giant SupercellSOARS Protog√© Logan Dawson blogs about his first encounter with a supercell thunderstorm through a field science project. Logan discusses how he felt while trying to get out of harm's way.
    • In class, discuss Logan's blog. What excited him about what he is studying?  Was there anything that surprised students about his blog? Why was he concerned about his safety?
    • In small groups, have students tell a story about when they experienced one or more of these emotions during a weather event. Everyone should try to pick a different emotion. What were some of the most prevalent emotions in the class? Have students consider why some emotions were more recounted than others.

Explore: Guide students to explore the impacts of tornadoes through literature and media.

  • Eye of the Storm: (middle school) In this work of young adult fiction, a girl explores her metereologist father's secret work: creating monster storms. Have students read the story and then discuss the characters' safety concerns.
  • Weather in the News: Students investigate how weather events are covered in the news and the Joplin Case Study in the activity focuses on tornadoes.

Explain: Have students present the impacts of tornadoes through a case study.

Elaborate: Guide students to develop a safety plan for their home, school, and/or community.

  • Have students develop a satety plan based on what they learn from one or both of these resources:
    • The American Red Cross App has planning checklists, maps, and a tornado warning sirens feature - a good resource for students as they develop their safety plan.
  • Have students design a tornado-proof building (engineering), describe the tornado-proof features (construct an explanation), and discuss planning goals with a city council (communication on societal impacts) as described in the  Discovery Education: Tornado! lesson plan.

Evaluate by having students synthesize their learning in a Tornado Public Service Announcement for their school, community, or region.

  • Get Weather Ready: During a Tornado Public Service Announcement (PSA) from the U.S. National Weather Service is a good model of a tornado PSA.
  • Students can write the PSA script and/or record a multimedia PSA and present to their class, school, or community. Student presentations should refer to the impacts of tornadoes on communities, safety concerns, a safety plan for the school or community, and a communication plan for broadcasting the PSA.