Lesson 2: Meteorological Risks


You will describe how the Earth’s meteorological systems pose risks of tornadoes for Minneapolis now and in the future.

Time to Complete

1 to 3 hours


  1. Review the standards that are directly and indirectly related to this topic, including:

  1. As you work through the Big IDEAS design thinking process, you should continually reference the standards to ensure that several of the standards are addressed through your design plan.

Let’s Get Started

Access the following resources to briefly review some of the meteorological processes and systems you’ve learned about before. Write a paragraph for each topic below, explaining and describing the process. Upload your answers using the button at the bottom of the page.

  1. earth’s atmosphere
  2. precipitation
  3. supercells
  4. tornadoes
  5. hurricanes

More information about how tornadoes form can be found at PBS Learning Media.

Based on what you have just learned, what are some of the ways earth’s meteorological systems can threaten Minneapolis? Why do you believe this? Use the Notes tool to write your answer.

  1. Watch the video Super Tornado: Anatomy of a Megadisaster. As you are watching, take notes in the Notes tool about any data that is shared. (dates and times, locations, magnitude, loss of property or life, etc.)
  1. After viewing the video, think about how difficult it might be to collect all the data.
  2. You will be using a collaborative approach to data collection, which is precisely what scientists do when generating their own data. You will communicate with a small group of students over Zoom, Skype, email, text, or any distance learning collaboration tool your school has adopted. Form a group that you will work with for the rest of this module. If you are working independently, for the following activities enlist the help of one or more members of your household.
  3. Share some data points from the video with your group. Create a shared Google Doc for group members to record their responses, five minutes at a time.
  4. After each group member has had several turns recording the data they collected from the video, try to reach a consensus about the data.
  5. Then, watch the video again to validate the data. Pause and rewind the video as needed during the validation process.

Let’s Get to Work

  1. With your group, generate a list of ways in which tornadoes could affect the Minneapolis community. These categories would include health, architecture, economics, education, infrastructure (bridges, roads, power) etc. Use a shared Google Doc to record your group members’ responses. Consider the information presented here by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). You should skim the information for other categories of consequences that you may not have considered.
  2. As a group, discuss the consequences you’ve written about. What are the ways tornadoes could affect the Minneapolis community? What are some consequences you hadn’t considered but you learned about from the CDC? Record your answers in the Notes tool.

Let’s Wrap Up

  1. You will be working through the Big IDEAS cycle to learn more about the Earth’s climate and its effect on the residents of Minneapolis, and will develop a product to address the problem. Tornadoes will be the main focus, but you are invited to choose to focus on any severe weather systems that may affect Minneapolis.
  2. Recall each of the steps in the Big IDEAS cycle:

Use the Notes tool to identify one consequence of tornadoes (or another form of severe weather) on Minneapolis that you would like to learn more about and mitigate.

Be sure to upload all of your completed PDFs before moving on to the next lesson.