Collaborative Google Map

Extreme Meteorology Class Google Map Exercise

View ATOMS Workshop Extreme Meteorology Map in a larger map

Examples of extreme events:

1. Highest rainfall amounts
2. Biggest flood
3. Most severe drought
4. Biggest hail
5. Most lightening strikes
6. Biggest tornado (longest track, most damage)
7. Highest straight line winds
8. Biggest hurricane
9. Coldest temperatures (longest period)
10. Hottest temperatures (longest period)
11. Worst ice storm
12. Worst air pollution related to weather pattern

You can choose different geographic scales (city, state, nation, world), just make sure that the scale that you use is appropriate for the way weather records are structured. You can also have the students define the events in different ways; for example, the coldest one day temperature vs. the longest cold spell or the year with the lowest January average temperature. They can also define "worst" in different ways; most human injury/death, greatest amount of economic damage, etc. and they can do this for either short-term or longterm impacts. 

Begin by defining the "extreme events" that each student will research. Tell students that they will need to find out the following information:

a. Where did it occur?
b. When did it occur?
c. Quantify the event with data-- temperature in degrees, number of days duration, etc.
d. Describe the event in words.
e. How much damage did it do in terms of human injuries, disease, or deaths, and how much economic damage (or ecological damage) did it do?

There are links to resources that can be used for student research at the bottom of this page. Make sure that the students know that they must document all of their sources (they can put links in the map icon dialog box to document sources). Discourage students from using Wikipedia, this is not an authoritative source and is not recognized as an appropriate source by scientists; it is better for the students to learn about the many primary data sources that can be used for scientific research.

You can create a single Google Map and have all of the students log onto it.* Google Maps works as a wiki, and the entire class can simultaneously work on the same map from their individual computers (make sure you tell students that if they see something magically appear on the map that it is the work of another student and they should not delete it or alter is without permission). The students will create a custom icon for their "extreme weather" marker, add their information to the icon dialog box, and add paths, polygons, etc. as appropriate (for example, they may want to use the Path tool to show a tornado track, or the Polygon tool to show the extent of a flood). Make sure that the students put their names or some form of acceptable identification in the icon dialog box so that you can keep track of their work.

When you are finished, students can embed the class map into their e-Portfolios or a class website to showcase their work.

* Note: If you are working with younger students, you can create a class Google Account, or you can have them work individually in Google Earth and then load the kml files onto a common Google Map.

Google Maps has an interactive tutorial that you can use to get acquainted:

To create a map, log into your Google Account, click Maps, then go to My Places. This will allow you to click Create Map.

If you wish to have all of your students work on a single class map, you will need to have them log into their Google Accounts. Add them as collaborators using the same email addresses that they use for their Google Accounts (that's the email which serves as their user name).

Here are the instructions for students:

Here are some additional exercises you can use as variations on this lesson:

My Google Earth Weather Almanac

You can focus students on how weather events impact their own lives by having them construct a Personal Weather Almanac. This can be done by asking the students to research out extreme weather events that have occurred in places that they have lived during their lifetimes (note: do not have students put their home addresses on any maps or files that will be made public in e-Portfolios or class websites, you can use schools or public parks as locations for this project). 

Ask the students to include any memories that they may have of the weather events. They should also talk about whether they did anything to protect their health or the health of pets or family members during the weather event. The "almanac" can be in the form of a narrative in Google Documents or a Google Presentation (younger students can work in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint). Students can include personal photographs or images from the internet, but make sure that they know that if they include images from the web they need to document the sources (and they shouldn't use copyrighted material without permission).

My Personal Extreme Weather Survival Plan

Climatologists are concerned over the increasing pattern of extreme weather that they have documented over the past twenty years. Climate models predict that these extreme events will increase in frequency and severity in many places. As a result, students will need to be more aware of the potential for extreme weather events to impact them during their lifetimes. We can empower students by showing them how to plan what they will do to mitigate potential health problems (including death) during heat advisories, tornadoes, flash floods, etc.

Depending on how much time you have available, you can do any or all of the following:

a.  Lead a discussion about different precautions that can be taken. 
b. Have the students write out a plan for the most likely weather events in your region (this can even be printed out on 3x5 cards and put in their backpacks).
c. Students can make an actual plan that includes help from their families-- prepare an emergency kit, purchase a weather radio, etc.
d. You can have someone from the local Red Cross or other emergency organization come to your class.
e. You can ask the local TV weather station to visit your class and talk to your students about how they track extreme events (storm chasers, etc.). 

Weather safety information on K-State climatologist's website

Red Cross Secondary School Student website
How to make a plan



Exploring Weather and Weather Wiz Kids are two websites developed by a meteorologist to provide kid friendly definitions of weather events.

What is the difference between weather and climate? NASA website explains the relationship between "weather" and "climate."

Google Earth and Google Maps

Google Earth Weather Layer-- turn on layer in Google Earth

Data Sources

These are government agency and university websites that provide information to the TV weather stations and commercial websites:

Kansas Weather Data Library