Upturning Tornadoes

Upturning Tornadoes

Students watch a video of explorer Anton Seimon as he describes the work he does to interpret and share data about tornadoes. After watching the video, students collect information about tornadoes and construct a data display that reflects their own findings.


5 - 12+


Earth Science, Meteorology, Storytelling, Photography

Made Possible By
Lockheed Martin

Idea for Use in the Classroom

Scientific discoveries start with questions about things that happen in the world. As a class, have students describe Anton Seimon’s research and discoveries. Ask students, What does he still not know? We know a lot about tornadoes, but there is a lot more that we still do not know. Have students read a short encyclopedia article on Tornadoes and the Enhanced Fujita Scale, and then examine the Inside of a Tornado infographic.

Ask students to use the article and infographic to make a list of what they notice and their questions about tornadoes. Have students call out a few of their questions while you write them on the board or on chart paper. Ask students, If you had information about all the tornadoes that have happened in the United States since 1980 in front of you, what questions would you want answered? Student questions may include the following:

  • Where do most of the EF-4 and EF-5 tornadoes occur?
  • What time of year do most tornadoes happen?
  • What states were hit by the most tornadoes in the ’80s, ’90s, ’00s, and ’10s?

Add student responses to the original list.

In pairs or groups, have students identify a question they want to explore and can be answered using Twister Dashboard: Exploring Three Decades of Violent Storms. Have students collect the data they need to answer their question and practice interpreting and organizing the data in a table. Then have students make a poster displaying their data as a graph or chart to share with the class. Ask students, How can this data help people to prepare for future tornadoes?

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Heather J. Johnson, Vanderbilt University
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Educator Reviewer
Alexandra M. Silva, Science Educator, Peter Gruber International Academy, Virgin Islands 9-12 International Baccalaureate MYP Science, DP Biology, and DP Environmental Systems & Societies MEd Instructional Leadership: Science Education; MS Ecology & Evolution
Program Specialist
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

May 9, 2024

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