This is a continuation of the previous lesson about lightning. Thunder and lightning provided a great deal of content to include this information so I separated it into lessons and origin and safety. Basically, lightning is very common in parts of the world. It makes sense to me that if I teach about lightning, I need to also teach that while it's a wondrous element, there are ways to stay safe around it.
I rang my chime to get the class’s attention and announce that we were about to begin the second Science lesson in our unit about severe weather. They return to the carpet squares and ‘Show Five’. To give the concept a visual element and element of physical engagement, I flick the lights on and off several times. With each flick, the students jump up and quickly sit down. I ask the class if they had ever seen a rainstorm. “I have!” “Did any of these rainstorms have lightning?” “Yes!” “Like real meteorologists, it’s important that we know what’s happening when you see rain so you can stay safe.” I give them 2-3 minutes to explore this idea before I get their attention with the ring of our chime.
I read a booklet, Aunt Sarah and the Amazing Power to the class. It's a cute story about what children need to do in event of an electrical storm. The booklet came from our local utility company. While it's not available on a national level, your local utility company may have resources for classrooms that both easily transmit simple concepts like this and act as a nice extension to a BetterLesson. "Who has ever played in a park like the kids in the book?" "Me!" "What are the children in the park doing?" "Playing" "Yes, but then it starts to rain and they need to stay safe. I wonder how they do it?"
I make a quick transition back to ways to stay safe in a storm. “Who remembers something that we learned about electricity in the last lesson?” “It comes from clouds.” “Yes, it does. Water- even in a cloud- transmits the electrical charge. Anytime you see lightning and rain at the same time, it’s important that you stay away from the water so you don’t get hurt. The best way to do this is to stay inside a shelter. A shelter is a place that has a roof and strong supports or walls to keep you away from danger. What is one thing that is dangerous in a storm?" "Lightning!" "Right. Another hazard is 'live' electrical wires because they carry the current that could be dangerous to anything it touches. You need to stay away from these too. To stay safe, any kind of structure with a roof that’s away from water will work.”
As the whole class instruction finishes, I tell them “It’s time for us to practice what this looks like. If there is ever a storm, we need to be like meteorologists and practice what to do, right? So we’re going to pretend there is a storm and we need to find shelter. What kinds of things in our classroom could we use for structures?” “Tables” “The library” “The cardboard box” “All those things would be great to use as a structure!” When possible, it's good to illustrate concepts using a variety of modalities (e.g. auditory, visual, kinesthetic), so I use some beans and metal pie plates leftover from the previous lightning lesson to illustrate the effects of a lightning storm as a visual and auditory cue. “When you hear the sound and see the light, pretend there’s a storm. The first thing you need to do is…” “Find shelter!” “OK, everyone ready…one..two..three.. There’s a storm. Find shelter!” The students scramble to find a place under tables and in the class library. I stop the sound and announce the storm is over. “Everyone found a safe shelter in the storm. You can come back to your seats now.”
Once we complete the activity and all returned to our seats, we do a quick review of the one thing we need to do to stay safe in a storm. “Find shelter!” My goal of the lesson was to give a relatable example of a common phenomena. Sometimes, lessons can be simple in order to provide valuable information.