GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 181-5
Presentation Time: 10:00 AM


THOMAS, Jeff D., Geological Sciences, Central Connecticut State University, 1615 Stanley Street, New Britain, CT 06050

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) requires all teachers to shift the way they teach science, emphasizing three-dimensional learning. When NGSS was first adopted, few curriculum materials aligned to this shift in teaching and learning, particularly phenomenon-based activities. Yet, widespread adoption of these standards has resulted in a growing body of instructional materials for teachers. Recently, a weather unit, “When Air Masses Collide,” was developed to align with the NGSS Disciplinary Core Idea MS ESS2.D, Weather and Climate that focusses on how air masses are complex weather phenomena and how understanding the dynamics of them help us predict the weather.

For the first activity of the unit, a dramatic video of Superstorm Sandy affecting coastal areas along the east coast, hooks learners to the topic and elicits reactions to this devastating natural disaster. Second, a video of the unit’s anchoring phenomenon illustrates a puzzling weather event, which depicts the passage of an intense cold front from Marissa, Illinois, on October 25, 2012. This is the same frontal system that transformed Hurricane Sandy into post-tropical Superstorm Sandy just a few days later. Individually, learners record any weather changes they observe from the video and pose any questions they may have. The most noticeable observation from this video is the abrupt shift in the wind, as seen in the change of the direction of steam emitted from a local power plant. Third, since some weather conditions were unobservable from the video, learners collect and analyze hourly weather data from the internet, which depicts an abrupt change in weather conditions such as cloud cover, wind direction, temperature, and humidity. Using all of these observations, learners develop a conceptual model to hypothesize the causal factors to explain this puzzling weather event. This first sequence of activities from this unit is the foundation for learners to develop their knowledge and understandings about the weather including air masses, fronts, and pressure systems. Examples of student work will be shared as well as a list of all of the unit activities from this weather unit.