K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

large tree trunk fallen on top of car

Chapel Hill in the aftermath of Hurricane Hazel. Photograph by Roland Giduz, 1954. Roland Giduz Collection, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Related pages

  • National Weather Service - Raleigh: The Raleigh office of the National Weather Service offers tours to middle and high school student groups. The website provides local weather and hurricane data.
  • Be the meteorologist: Students use internet data to plot the path of a hurricane over several days. At designated points, students will decide which areas of the coast to put under a hurricane warning and will justify their decisions. This lesson uses real weather data and allows students to "be the meteorologist."
  • State Climate Office of North Carolina: Students of all ages will enjoy learning about North Carolina's climate, whether on a field trip or in their classroom. Topics include extreme weather records, drought, tornadoes, El Nino and La Nina, hurricanes and North Carolina, and much more.

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Each year from June through October, the eastern seaboard prepares itself for the possibility of hurricanes. With so much attention in the media focused on these mighty storms, your students are sure to be interested in the science and history behind hurricanes. Prepare yourself in the classroom with these virtual field trips, lesson plans, and interactive websites.

Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations

Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations are virtual field trips to areas characterized by both beautiful scenery and useful lessons about North Carolina’s environment. These field trips in particular focus on the North Carolina coast and the effects of hurricanes.

Hurricanes on Sandy Shorelines: Lessons for Development
A Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations “virtual field trip” that examines the sand sharing system of sedimentary coastlines and the impact of hurricanes on those coastlines and on human development.
Small Sand Volume Barrier Islands: Environmental Processes and Development Risks
This Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations “virtual field trip” explores the nature and structure of barrier islands with small sand volume, on which built structures are highly susceptible to damage from hurricanes.
Large Sand Volume Barrier Islands: Environmental Processes and Development Risks
This Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations “virtual field trip” explores the nature and structure of barrier islands with large sand volume, on which built structures are relatively well insulated from hurricane damage.
Evidence of Rising Sea Level: Coastal Erosion and Plant Community Changes
A Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations “virtual field trip” that examines the causes and effects of changes in sea level, both short-term (as a result of storms) and long-term (as a result of climate change).

Hurricanes in North Carolina history

Graveyard of the Atlantic
This article discusses how the waters off North Carolina’s coast have been called the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” because of the great number of ships that have wrecked there — thousands since the sixteenth century. Geography, climate, and human activity have all played roles in making this region unusually treacherous to shipping.

Lesson Plans

Coastal Weather Issues: Planning for a Hurricane
The unit is designed for seventh grade students who have been studying the Earth and its atmosphere. In this sequence, students are faced with the realistic issue of personal and social decision-making when planning for hurricane strikes, which includes classification, tracking, and monitoring hurricanes, as well as planning for evacuations. The inquiry-based approach involves a WebQuest in which the learner will assume the role of an emergency management team member who must create a preparation plan for the community. (Grade 7)
Be the Meteorologist
Students use internet data to plot the path of a hurricane over several days. At designated points, students will decide which areas of the coast to put under a hurricane warning and will justify their decisions. This lesson uses real weather data and allows students to “be the meteorologist.” (Grade 7)
Hurricane response: What do we do first?
Students take on the roles of officials preparing for and responding to a hurricane, and go through the process according to real-time announcements. (Grade 7)
Hurricanes 1: The Science of Hurricanes
This lesson from Science NetLinks is the first of a two-part series on the science of hurricanes and the kinds of technology being used to identify and track them. Students examine different scientific aspects of hurricanes, all in an effort to begin to understand the nature of motion-particularly how changes in speed or direction of motion are caused by forces. (Grades 5 & 7)
Hurricanes 2: Tracking Hurricanes
In this lesson from Science NetLinks, students’ study of hurricanes is broadened by exploring how technology and science are used today to identify, measure, and track powerful tropical storms to better warn and secure people from their often-devastating impact. (Grades 5 & 7)
What’s Up With the Weather?
In this lesson from National Geographic Xpeditions, students will pretend they’re meteorologists who have been asked to give a press report explaining what is to blame for the seemingly strange weather patterns that have afflicted the country in the past few years. They will conduct research in preparation for making a statement to the press about the issue. (Grades 9-12)
Hurricane Katrina: You Be the Reporter
Technology played a major role in how Americans prepared for this Gulf Coast storm and learned about its aftermath. This lesson examines technology’s role in telling the story of Hurricane Katrina. It also helps students to develop their skills as reporters, and then use technology to share their work. (Grades 9-12)

Websites

StormTracker: Your Official Hurricane Survival Guide
Everything you need to know about hurricanes, past and present from WRAL! Get the latest on developing storms or learn about past hurricanes that have struck NC territory. Get the basics on tornadoes and hurricanes and lots of advice about storm safety with images, interactives, and video.
The National Weather Service - Raleigh
The Raleigh office of the National Weather Service offers tours to middle and high school student groups. The website provides local weather and hurricane data.
Hurricane Strike!
Available via the MetEd website (which is free, but requires a log-in and password), this multimedia website educates students on hurricanes and hurricane preparedness.
American Experience: The Hurricane of ‘38
A companion to the PBS film, The Hurricane of ‘38, which may be used in conjunction with the program or independently and includes a variety of resources such as oral histories, maps, and home video hurricane footage to explore the effects one of the worst hurricanes in American history.
Nature’s Fury: Hurricanes
Learn about the phenomena, the effects, and the science of hurricanes in this animated website from National Geographic. Includes a video showing how hurricanes form.
Hurricane Floyd Interview Transcripts
Part of the Southern Oral History Program from Documenting the American South, this link will take you to a page of search results with interviews from survivors of the devasting 1999 hurricane.