Hurricane Katrina Jigsaw Activity

This page was modified from Erin Klauk's Navajo Nation Jigsaw Activity. It was designed by Laurie Cantwell as part of the DLESE Community Services Project: Integrating Research in Education.


Hurricane Katrina sea surface temperatures. Details

Hurricanes are almost an expected part of the late summer to winter months in much of the southeastern United States. Scientists question if the apparently stronger recent hurricane seasons are associated with other climate phenomena, global climate change in particular. There are also possible connections between strong hurricane seasons and the El Nino/Southern Oscillation phenomenon.

  • Are apparently stronger hurricane seasons associated with global climate change?

Use the Hurricane Katrina Web Resources to investigate these questions in your classroom.


Students will use the jigsaw technique ([Tewksbury, 1995] ) to explore the possible effects of global climate change on hurricane seasons. Students will be divided into four groups. Each group will take forty-five minutes to explore assigned parts of the website. Members of each group will become "experts" on their assigned topics. Then, the groups will disperse and reassemble into new groups that will include one member from each of the former groups. In their new groups, each "expert" will provide a a brief summary of the essential information on their topic. 

This activity takes roughly twenty-five minutes. Each person should complete an activity worksheet (these will be handed in) with the key points about what is particularly interesting and/or important about these issues. The class period will end with a general discussion about the overall issue of global climate change and hurricane season strength and the future risks in the Gulf Coast region.

Group One:

Explore the climate of the region. What is the overall nature of the climate in the region? Is it changing? Are there patterns in the climate behavior of the region that are associated with stronger hurricane seasons? Does global climate play a role too? Or just regional climate?

Group Two:

Explore information about hurricanes and hurricane history. What can be learned from the science of hurricanes? Does hurricane history in the region suggest a connection between global climate change and hurricane season strength?

Group Three:

Explore the physical geology and geography of the region. How does the geology and geography of the region contribute to the present and future risks associated with potentially stronger hurricane seasons?

Group Four:

Explore the human activities and development, possibly look into human health, and also think about zoning, vulnerability of critical services like water, sewage, power and communications. 

Each one of these categories is a good place to start your investigation. However, this site contains a wealth of information to draw into your discussion. As an "expert" you may want to explore other topics on this site as well as other websties. Check out our Climate Change Collection and Climate Change Data Sets.

For further information about teaching with the jigsaw technique see: Barbara Tewksbury, 1995, Specific Strategies for Using the Jigsaw Technique for Working in Groups in Non-Lecture-Based Courses, Journal of Geological Education v 43, p 322-326 [Tewksbury, 1995] .

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