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The City Journals

Daybreak Elementary Fourth-Graders Examine Extreme Weather

Apr 07, 2016 04:48PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

South Jordan - Daybreak Elementary fourth-grader Ellie Smith didn’t know much about hurricanes before February. Now, after doing her extreme-weather report, she knows the eye of the storm can cause severe damage and even death.

“I didn’t know about them and thought it would be good to research about it,” she said, adding that her research first started with books and looking online.

In the course of her research, she learned her neighbors had relatives who had lived through a hurricane. That led to learning about it from them, seeing photos of the house full of sand, palm trees swaying in the wind and damage on their street after the storm passed.

She used photos they gave her, along with some she found online, to create a mobile as part of the extreme-weather project her teacher Tawna Pippen assigned.

“It’s a four-week individual project on extreme weather that includes both a written and oral project as well as a presentation,” Pippen said.

The assignment for both Pippen’s and Megan Calder’s class included researching how this form of weather differs from “normal” weather, how the weather begins or forms, how it affects the land and people and how common it is. They also needed to include examples of the weather in Utah, and if it hadn’t occurred here, to explain. As Ellie learned with her project, Utah is land-locked and hurricanes require warm tropical weather. 

The students were to present their findings in a three-minute oral presentation and a one-page written report. They were also make a presentation of what they learned. These ranged from PowerPoints and posters to dioramas and mobiles, like the one Ellie made.

Classmate Kaylie Macaluso chose to do her project on blizzards.

“I kind of knew what they were since we live in Utah, but I didn’t know that much about them,” she said. “I like snowstorms where I can build snowmen and go sledding, but this isn’t like that.”

She learned that the severe winter storm comes about with winds and blowing snow. 

“It can cause traffic to slow way down and can even be deadly. People have froze when they’re covered in snow,” she said.

In her report, Kaylie included what people should do to prepare for blizzards. 

“They should pack flashlights, coats, water, food and blankets in the car just in case,” she said.

Fourth-grader Kara Mason decided to make a diorama for her illustration of a thunderstorm. She used cotton balls for clouds, pipe cleaners zigzagging from the clouds as lightning bolts and little branches of plastic trees, paper and clay to create a background that included trees.

“It took about four days to make it,” she said. “I wanted it to show what thunderstorms are like.”

In her project, Kara explained how hot and cold air mix to make the storm, how hail can be part of it and how it all starts with a spark of electricity.

“About 20,000 storms go through the world daily. They seem to happen a lot in Utah so I wanted to learn more about them and what makes them. There can be hail as part of the storm — some of it as large as tennis balls,” she said.

While listening to other classmates, the girls realized they learned about other weather, such as what sleet is, that cyclones can kill and that the cracking on the ground occurs during droughts. 

“It’s been really cool to learn more about all the different kinds of weather we experience here in Utah and across the states. I didn’t realize what all we have and how it occurs until we did this project,” Ellie said.