The impact of human activity on hurricanes and ground temperatures. (Middle School) (ESS3)

Created by NASA Wavelength Last updated 7/31/2018

The resources in this list support student understanding of the impact of human activity on the frequency and intensity of hurricanes (using Katrina as an example) as well as the impact of urbanization on ground temperatures.


Human impacts on the environment are included under NGSS ESS3.C (Earth and Human Activity / Human Impacts on Earth Systems).
  • Hurricane Katrina

    This problem-based learning module challenges students to analyze both the causes and effects of Hurricane Katrina. Students gather evidence from Earth’s major systems (atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere) and use scientific reasoning to support or refute the claim that future climate change will impact the frequency and intensity of hurricanes. Allow two to four hours for students to conduct research and prepare a report or presentation of their findings.
    AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/E5, 3C/H4
  • Hurricanes

    Satellite data and images reveal the science behind hurricane formation and intensity- as well as the degree to which hurricanes impact humans. Students use images and data from the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission to analyze and interpret hurricane development, precipitation amounts and movement. The role of sea surface temperature in hurricane formation is also incorporated in this 45- minute lesson. This resource also appears in the NSTA curated collection of NGSS aligned resources.
    AAAS Benchmarks: MS-ESS3-2
  • EO Kids: Urban Heat Islands: Hot Times in the City

    NASA observes and measures ground temperatures from space. The concentration of people and buildings in cities has created pockets where temperatures swell compared to the surrounding area- creating urban heat islands. Students in grades 3-8 examine data and text and participate in activities and experiments to learn details of the causes and effects of urban heat islands.
  • Worldview: Earth at Night

    Patterns of human population centers are revealed at night as light patterns of varying intensity. Human impacts on Earth can be examined through those patterns and by using the additional overlays and base layers to show surface temperatures, water and air quality.
  • Images-of-change

    This site features a collection of over 100 before and after image pairs of locations worldwide. Examination of the images allows students to identify relationships as well as changes in Earth’s environment. Students may use various images as evidence related to climate change, to illustrate the effects of urbanization and/or to show the impacts of natural hazards.