Photograph of jigsaw puzzle pieces.

CareerStart lessons: Grade seven

Learning outcomes

Students will understand how to prepare for a hurricane and learn how to mitigate possible damage.

Teacher preparation

Time required for lesson

One to two class periods (45-55 minutes each.) Homework time will be needed to complete family hurricane hazard plan.

Materials needed

  • Student handouts:
    • “Building a Safe House” instructions
    • Bonus career worksheet
  • “Builing a Safe House” rubric — one for each group
  • Motorized fan to simulate a hurricane
  • Building materials — for each group of four:
    • White board and markers
    • Two large sheets of cardstock or construction paper
    • Four straws
    • Glue or glue stick
    • Plastic wrap
    • Aluminum foil
    • Styrofoam tray
    • Ruler
    • Scissors
    • Four paper clips


  1. As a class, brainstorm hazards that are associated with hurricanes. (Answers may include high winds, storm surge, torrential rainfall, flooding, power outages, fires, etc.)
  2. Brainstorm what could be done to increase the odds of staying safe and keeping your property intact during a hurricane. (Answers may include having a communication and evacuation plan, evacuating when told to do so, having a family disaster supply kit, knowing how to prepare your home for high winds and/or flooding, etc.)
  3. Divide the class into groups of four. Present the question “Can buildings be constructed to resist the strong winds of hurricanes?” Ask students to make a list of what builders could do to make a building wind resistant. (Answers may include reinforced walls, hurricane shutters, etc.)
  4. Give each group of students a set of building materials and a copy of the “Building a Safe House” handout. Have the students follow the instructions on the sheet to build the safest structure possible.
  5. After the students complete their designs, allow them 30 to 45 minutes for construction. All houses must be at least 2,000 cubic centimeters and have at least two windows and one door. Aluminum foil may be used for support but may not be used as the main building material. Remind students that if any group needs to purchase an extra sheet of construction paper or card stock, five points will be deducted from their final score. If any group needs to purchase any other materials, three points will be deducted from their final score.
  6. When the construction time is over, no group should be allowed to make any changes to its safe house. Begin to test each house for wind resistance. Use a fan turned on at a distance of three or four meters away from the house. This set-up simulates a tropical storm. Then, move the fan closer to simulate a category one hurricane. Move the fan closer and closer to simulate stronger hurricanes. You may choose to have markers on the floor designating a tropical storm and hurricanes at categories one through five to make the scoring more objective.
  7. Use the “Building a Safe House” rubric to score each team. Teams may earn extra points by brainstorming careers that would be associated with building a safe house on the bonus career worksheet. Each career listed is worth one point.
  8. In conclusion, have the students describe their construction and the reasons for their stability or instability in the wind. Ask the class whether the principles learned from building the model would apply to building a real building. Discuss what kinds of materials and construction techniques make the safest homes.
  9. Have students spend some time in class generating a list of hurricane hazards inside and outside of a house. Remind students that ordinary objects inside and outside of the home can cause injury or damage during a hurricane. Anything that can move, break, fall, or start a fire is a potential hazard. As a homework assignment, have the students take this class list of hazards home for a home inspection, inside and outside. Together with their family, the students should list potential hazards, make a plan to correct observed problems, and compile a list of things to do during a hurricane or a tornado watch.


Optional resources for more information on the topics covered in this lesson Protective Measures
This guide for families gives information on what they can do to protect their homes before a hurricane hits.
Hurricanes and the Hazards They Bring
From the Florida Hazardous Weather website, this page has information on hurricane hazards, planning for a hurricane, hurricane tracking maps, and more.
FEMA Ready Kids’s kids website teaches them to prepare for disasters by creating a kit, making a plan, and knowing the facts through presentations and games.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Science (2005)

Grade 7

  • Goal 1: The learner will design and conduct investigations to demonstrate an understanding of scientific inquiry.
    • Objective 1.07: Prepare models and/or computer simulations to:
      • Test hypotheses.
      • Evaluate how data fit.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Science (2010)
      • Grade 5

        • 5.E.1 Understand weather patterns and phenomena, making connections to the weather in a particular place and time. 5.E.1.1 Compare daily and seasonal changes in weather conditions (including wind speed and direction, precipitation, and temperature) and patterns....
      • Grade 7

        • 7.E.1 Understand how the cycling of matter (water and gases) in and out of the atmosphere relates to Earth’s atmosphere, weather and climate and the effects of the atmosphere on humans. 7.E.1.1 Compare the composition, properties and structure of Earth’s...