Weather Ready Schools and Weather Education: What are our students being taught?

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Monday, 3 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Melissa Kay Corbett, Oklahoma Climatological Survey/University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; and S. L. Stalker, K. A. Kloesel, C. A. Fiebrich, J. Hocker, and A. Melvin

The May 2013 tornado outbreak in central Oklahoma has drawn attention to schools and school safety due to the fact that seven students were killed in an elementary school in Moore, Oklahoma. Research has shown there are many misconceptions and misunderstandings about severe weather and weather safety. I researched what is actually being taught to Oklahoma public school students by looking through state approved textbooks in science and social studies as well as interviewing teachers in the Moore Public School District. I investigated the following themes: What is being taught in the classroom on weather and weather safety? Is what is being taught relevant to student safety? My findings have reveled some alarming results. Textbooks have very little information about weather and some of the information is incorrect. Two Oklahoma History textbooks published in 2013 refer to the May 3, 1999 tornado that hit central Oklahoma as a “Category 6” tornado. One textbook states, “Experts said that no one expected that a Category Six tornado would even occur. Category Six has been created ‘in theory' – to define the strength of a Category Five tornado.” Moore school teachers unanimously agree that weather safety curriculum would benefit students. Many teachers are concerned that there is not existing weather safety curriculum in place. Weather and weather safety curriculum is necessary in Oklahoma public school classrooms. Basic information delivered a few times throughout their time is school can and will save lives.