Monday, October 7, 2013

Lightning, Hurricanes, Tornadoes: How's the Weather?

My youngest is seriously obsessed with the weather.  Specifically, weather and natural disasters.  Tsunamis, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, mud slides, earthquakes, floods, thunderstorms, lightning and most especially of all...tornadoes!   These topics simultaneously fascinate -and- absolutely terrify him (anybody ever checked a 9 year old boy's closet for terrorists, snipers, child-eating giants and tornadoes?).

Over the years, my son and I have spent countless hours wondering, pondering, discussing and researching his weather related questions.  Google, library books, documentaries, name it, we've watched it, read it, utilized it.

So imagine my thrill when one of the moms from our local unschooling group facilitated a meeting for our weather-minded kiddos with Notre Dame Meterologist, Ed Bensman!   Mr. Bensman was kind enough to agree to meet up with our little group and share his vast knowledge, experience and passion for the weather. He came prepared, bringing along scads of colorful maps, a small globe (to better illustrate how the seasons change, why the sun "sets" and the cycles of the moon), and a great big bucket to demonstrate how a tornado works.

Mr. Bensman shared lots of information with the kids (and us curious moms) and patiently answered all of our questions (way better than google or youtube ever could).  We talked about how the seasons change, tornadoes, the cycles of the moon, tornadoes, wind, tornadoes, how snowflakes form, tornadoes, thunderstorms and lightning, tornadoes, cloud formation and rain, tornadoes, hurricanes, tornadoes, dust devils and...tornadoes.

Water tornado in a bucket!
In case you didn't notice, just about every other question asked by our budding meteorologists ended up being about tornadoes (with some extra ponderings on lightning and thunderstorms tossed in for good measure) - even when the topic being discussed wasn't about tornadoes.  This didn't phase our mentor at all.  In fact, he has great ideas he's going to work on for our next session...planning a bit more around our children's specific interests.  You guessed it...tornadoes.

Zach's friend Elijah,
ND Meteorologist Ed Bensman,
and Zach.