Chapter 1: Oceans
The Chapter Challenge for Oceans is for students to prepare report that help their community leaders decide if they should host a conference on preparing for El Niño events. Students begin the chapter with a review of the basics of ocean circulation by looking at wind and Coriolis forces as the driving mechanisms of surface ocean circulation and temperature and salinity as the driving mechanisms of deep ocean circulation. Students then examine patterns of surface ocean currents and winds and look for variations between “normal” and El Niño years. Students look at sea surface temperature data during “normal” and El Niño years and make inferences on how El Niño events impact the ocean food chain, global climate, and specifically, their community.
Chapter 2: Weather
The Chapter Challenge for Weather is for students to prepare reports evaluating the potential for severe weather in their community, which will be submitted to an entertainment company that is considering building an arena with a retractable roof in the community. Students are introduced to severe weather through the study of thunderstorms. Students learn conditions necessary to create thunderstorms and learn how thunderstorm clouds develop and mature. Students examine techniques used by meteorologists to track thunderstorms. Students then move on to study causes of hazards associated with severe weather, specifically flash flooding, lightning, and high winds and tornadoes.