Hurricanes STEM


Help your students explore one of the most fascinating and destructive natural phenomena out there: hurricanes! With this lesson plan, they’ll learn how these powerful storms form, what conditions are necessary for their formation, and how they eventually break up.

Your students will be amazed at the power of the hurricane as they learn about the force and motion involved in its formation and destruction. They’ll also better understand how weather conditions play a role in creating conditions favorable for hurricanes. By the end of this lesson, your students will have a newfound appreciation for these fascinating storms.

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What our Hurricanes STEM lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Hurricanes STEM explores the formation and break up of this devastating natural disaster. Students will discover the connection between force and motion as it relates to this storm and explain what weather conditions cause hurricanes to happen. They will also learn that the warmth of oceans creates conditions that are favorable for the formation of this destructive storm. This lesson is for students in 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. This lesson requires rectangular dishes, flexible straws, rulers, and tape.

Options for Lesson

The “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page offers several suggestions for additional ideas and activities to incorporate into the lesson. You could show videos of actual hurricanes to the class. You could also show students how these storms impact different cities and how people help each other rebuild. Talk about areas of the country that hurricanes often impact and affect. Another option is to have students research different ways people stay safe from these storms and how to protect buildings and homes.

Teacher Notes

The paragraph on this page provides a little more information or guidance on what to expect from the lesson. It mentions that this lesson intends to dive a little deeper into these storms and where and how they form. You can use the blank lines to record any thoughts or ideas you have as you prepare.


How, Where, and When Hurricanes Form

The Hurricanes STEM lesson plan has four content pages. Students will first learn that a hurricane is a type of storm in which high winds circle around a low-pressure center. Scientists call them tropical cyclones because the phrase better signifies where hurricanes originate and how the wind behaves.

All hurricanes form over warm ocean water near the equator. The equator is the line that runs around the center of the earth, dividing the northern and southern hemispheres. As a hurricane grows, it creates strong winds and heavy rain. The winds spin at least 74 miles per hour. This is not a problem if the hurricane stays out at sea. But sometimes they cross over land and cause a lot of damage.

When hot, moist air rises, it starts to form storm clouds. These storm clouds begin to gather and form a spiral shape. Winds start to get stronger and stronger and stronger. Once the winds reach 74 mph, it results in a hurricane. As the wind becomes stronger, it increases in speed and power. This is because the wind currents are the force that moves the hurricane and determines which direction it will go.

The wind spirals due to something called the Coriolis Effect. The Coriolis Effect explains how things traveling long distances around the earth appear to move at a curve rather than a straight line. That’s because different parts of the earth move at different speeds. Hurricanes form in the northern Atlantic, northern Pacific, southwestern Pacific, and the Indian Oceans.

About 10 hurricanes each year form in the Atlantic Ocean. If they go across land, often they hit the United States, Mexico, Central America, and sometimes even Canada. The northeastern Pacific area experiences about 16 hurricanes each year, but they never travel across the land. Most hurricanes form between May and November. However, in recent years, storms have started as early as April.

Naming Hurricanes and How They Break

Scientists name hurricanes because it helps them forecast, track, and report information about the storm. A storm only gets a name once its winds reach 62 mph. The World Meteorological Organization has different committees that pick the names. Depending upon where the hurricane starts, there are various naming rules. In the Atlantic, there is a list of 21 names that repeat every six years.

The names begin with A and go through the alphabet, but they leave out the letters Q, V, X, Y, and Z. Names switch between male and female names. They are only taken from the English, Spanish, and French languages. Deadly hurricanes, like Katrina, have their names removed from the list and replaced by a new name of the same gender.

Students will then learn that there are a couple reasons hurricanes will finally break up. If a hurricane travels over land, it can no longer get the hot, moist air it needed from the ocean water. Sometimes they get swallowed up by other storms. And they can even hit what is called a wind shear and be torn apart. Recently, scientists have figured out that too much dust can also break up a hurricane.

Hurricanes cause a lot of damage. In fact, they can generate millions or even billions of dollars in damage. Their high winds and heavy rain can damage homes, businesses, and the environment. In addition, hurricanes cause flooding, and high winds can throw around debris. Hurricanes have even been known to destroy entire cities!


The Hurricanes STEM lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. Each one will help students solidify their grasp of the material they learned throughout the lesson. You can refer to the classroom procedure guidelines to know when to hand out each worksheet.


This STEM activity allows students a chance to see how the speed of wind affects the height of ocean waves. After you divide students into groups of three, the students will gather their supplies. They will bend the straws into an L shape and place it the middle of the short side of the dish. The longer end should be about half an inch above the bottom of the dish. After taping the straw in place, they will fill the dish with water to a level just below the straw. Then they will gently blow into the straw to “create” wind. Finally, they will mark the height of the wave using the ruler and record the results in the chart on the worksheet. Students will repeat the process two more times, blowing harder each time. After they finish the activity, they will respond to the prompts at the bottom of the worksheet.


The practice worksheet requires students to answer eight questions about hurricanes. You can choose whether or not you allow them to use the content pages for references or guidance.


For the homework, students will research the hurricanes in three different areas that are currently being tracked. They will write down the location of each disturbance and the percent chance it has to turning into a storm. They can add more than one disturbance. There are three boxes that divide the areas students will research. Finally, students will print out a map and attach it to the homework worksheet that shows where these disturbances are.

Worksheet Answer Keys

There are answer keys for each of the worksheets in the lesson. All the correct answers are in red to make it easier for you to compare them to students’ work. Given the nature of some of the questions and prompts, there may be some variation. Keep that in mind as you grade. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade



State Educational Standards


Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.