When the weather forecasters announced one more depression in the Bay of Bengal after the great downpour (aka Chennai rains) the kids were jumping for joy. Luckily for them they are too young to have too many lessons to catch up. When my friend and neighbor suggested we do something educational with all the kids in our flats, the adults were only too happy.
The kids had seen the images of the cyclone on TV and that prompted us to start the discussion on what a cyclone looked like.
“It looks like a flower,” came one answer and another said it looked like the TV channel (Doordarshan’s symbol).
My neighbour brought out some Maida (all purpose flour) and created a model of a cyclone. It turned out to be surprisingly easy and realistic (because it was so fluffy)!
In the centre is the eye of the cyclone (where it is very calm)
The eyewall surrounds the eye: here the cloud cover is the thickest, the winds are strongest and the rains heaviest.
The rain bands have thick clouds and they go twisting around the eyewall like a spring. So they are called spiral rain bands.
It turned out the kids’ observations were not off the mark at all. The spiral twists of the bands do resemble the pinwheel flower (Nandiyavattai/ நந்தியாவட்டை)
and the Doordarshan logo! A closer relation would be the pinwheel toy or காத்தாடி that rotates in the wind.
We considered using chalk powder (kola maavu/rangoli powder) for the activity but settled on Maida because it is allergy free. We didn’t want the kids to inhale dust from the kola maavu and develop allergy reactions.
The kids played around with plain maida flour on paper to create their own cyclone models. The dark background offsets the white flour well. You can see the eye of the cyclone and the spiral movement of the clouds.