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the poetry of science

Environmental Science: Natural Disasters

Science and Children—May/June 2023 (Volume 60, Issue 5)

By Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong



by Carole Gerber

Warm, moist air drifts toward the sky;
gets caught in cold air speeding by.
Vicious, raging rains erupt.
Lightning flashes, wind speeds up
and shapes into a funnel form.
Deadly product of the storm.

Poem © 2014 Carole Gerber from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong © 2014 Pomelo Books; illustration by Frank Ramspott from The Poetry of Science: The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science for Kids © 2015 Pomelo Books.

Take 5! Activities

  1. Show a photo or play a clip of a video of a tornado sighting (without sound) as the backdrop while you read the poem aloud. Photos, diagrams, and videos of tornadoes can be found at the National Geographic site online (Online Resources).
  2. Read the poem aloud again, and invite students to chime in when the title of the poem appears within the poem (Tornado!).
  3. This is a teachable moment for talking about emergency preparedness—in school, at home, and in the community.
  4. Use this poem to talk about environmental changes such as tornadoes, floods, and droughts. What is the impact on the community? (Everyone is displaced, some temporarily and some permanently.) Look for the Tornado Teaching Box (Online Resources) with several resources related to how tornadoes affect people.
  5. For the pet perspective on a scary storm, look for “Dog in a Storm” by Stephanie Calmenson (Online Resources). Or for more weather poems, find A Crack in the Clouds by Constance Levy (Resources) and Seed Sower, Hat Thrower: Poems about Weather by Laura Purdie Salas (Resources). Seymour Simon’s nonfiction picture book Tornadoes (Resources) offers more factual details and photos, too.


Gerber, C. 2014. “Tornado!” in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science, eds. S. Vardell and J. Wong, 166. Princeton, NJ: Pomelo Books.


Levy, C. 1998. A crack in the clouds. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books.

Salas, L. P. 2008. Seed sower, hat thrower: Poems about weather. Minneapolis, MN: Capstone.

Simon, S. 2001. Tornadoes. New York: HarperCollins.

Online resources

Carole Gerber author website

“Dog in a Storm” by Stephanie Calmenson

National Geographic: Tornadoes, Explained

Tornadoes Teaching Box (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research)


Interdisciplinary Literacy Phenomena Elementary

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