Eye of the Storm by Kate Messner is a juvenile fiction book for 4-6th graders.
In the near future, massive storms systems devastate the world. People no longer ride bikes, go for long walks or play outside. Every home has a storm shelter and a devastating tornado could hit at any second.
In this world of fear is a tiny community called Placid Meadows, built right in the heart of the tornado belt and yet no storms ever touch it. Jaden has been sent to spend the summer at Placid Meadows in order to attend the prestigious Eye of Tomorrow summer camp and to get reacquainted with her MIA father, the creator of the community and all Storm Safe technology.
Here, Jaden makes friends and learns more about her father’s work. But something isn’t right. Observant and quick-witted, Jaden can tell that things don’t add up. Why don’t tornadoes hit this sleepy community? She knows her father is hiding something but will Jaden be brave enough to uncover the secrets that might break her family forever?
This is actually the second book I picked for my STEM Book Club, which started in September. We will be discussing this one in October. I will admit, perhaps this one is a little tough for fourth grades but I really enjoyed it and I can definitely see the kids getting into it.
The pace of the book was great. It was slower as we were gaining background and it picks up speed as the plot does. By the time our characters are running from storms you start to feel the excitement too. Messner does a great job of getting you to feel like the characters do, through her writing.
For this STEM club we have 10 discussion questions and then we are going to do a few experiments. We’ll see how it goes!
1. What is this book about? What are the main themes?
2. What is Meteorology? A major part of the book was this idea of weather manipulation. What do you think about this?
3. This book takes place in 2050. What makes this book “futuristic?” Can you see us getting any of this technology in the next 30+ years?
4. Page 18 – Jaden’s dad would always say that, “pretty words never protected anybody from a storm.” What do you think about this? Let’s think of other situations where words might be stronger than actions…
5. What did you think about The Eye of Tomorrow? If you were put in charge of a science camp where kids try to solve the world’s biggest problems, what would you choose to work on?
6. On page 33 we learn that storms literally never hit Placid Meadows. Why did you think this was? When did you realize what was really going on?
7. Page 147 – “If you don’t look, it won’t hurt.” When Jaden and Risha get stuck in the storm, Jaden shuts her eyes tight. Is it easier to face something scary or hide? Why?
8. One of Jaden’s biggest internal conflicts in this book is deciding between family and doing the right thing. Why do you think this is so hard?
9. Page 219 – How did you feel when Alex and Jaden looked up and realized that the three storms were merging into one? Did the narrative get you excited, scared, etc.?
10. Did you think Jaden’s dad’s punishment was fair? Do you think Grandma Althea is alive?
For my experiments we are going to create our own mini tornadoes and do an electricity experiment.
Create Your Own Mini Tornado
Supplies: Glass Jar; Water; Dish Soap; Glitter; Food Coloring
- Fill your glass jar about 2/3 with water.
- Add in a drop of dish soap, a drop of food coloring and some glitter.
- Tightly put the lid on your jar.
- “Shake” your jar in a circular motion, you should begin to see a funnel form. The glitter, soap and dye are all meant to help you see the funnel as it forms.
- Try out different methods. What happens when you swirl the water before flipping, etc.?
- What do you see?
- What is happening to create this vortex in the bottle?
- A vortex is a type of motion that causes liquids and gases to travel in spirals around a centerline. A vortex is created when a rotating liquid falls through an opening. Gravity is the force that pulls the liquid into the hole and a continuous vortex develops. If you swirl the water in the bottle while pouring it out, it causes a vortex to form. That vortex looks like a tornado in the bottle. The formation of the vortex makes it easier for air to come into the bottle and allows the water to pour out faster.
- Look carefully and you’ll be able to see the hole in the middle of the vortex that allows the air to come up inside the bottle. If you don’t swirl the water and just allow it to flow out on its own, then the air and water have to essentially take turns passing through the mouth of the bottle, thus the glug-glug sound.
Create Your Own Lightning
Supplies: fluorescent light bulb; rubber balloon
- Turn all of the lights off in the room. (The darker the better!)
- Rub the balloon on your hair for several seconds.
- Then hold the statically charged balloon near the glass end of the light bulb.
- Without touching the bulb, swish the balloon (the end your rubbed your hair with) just over the end of the bulb. This should illuminate the bulb.
- Repeat the demonstration as many times as desired.
- What is happening? What is making the bulb light up?
- Having trouble? Maybe the room isn’t dark enough. Maybe your hair is too dirty. You can try rubbing the balloon on a wool blanket instead of your hair. Troubleshooting is part of science!
- When you rub the balloon on your hair, the balloon builds up an electrical charge (static electricity). Touching the charged balloon to the end of the fluorescent light bulb causes the electrical charge to jump from the balloon to the bulb. This is what illuminates the light bulb.
- Lightning is an electrical discharge within a thunderstorm. As the storm develops, the clouds become charged with electricity. Scientists are still not sure exactly what causes this, but they do know that when the voltage becomes high enough for the electricity to leap across the air from one place to another, lightning flashes! Lightning can spark within a cloud, from one cloud to another, from a cloud to the ground, or from the ground to a cloud.
How’d it all go: This was a much more successful STEM activity then the last one. Everyone thought the lightbulb experiment was neat and we had a pretty good discussion. I think I need to do a little get-to-know you activity next time because it took awhile for the kids to warm up to each other. Other than that, a success.
That’s all for now!