Naturally Disastrous

Students are introduced to natural disasters and learn the difference between natural hazards and natural disasters. They discover the many types of natural hazards — avalanche, earthquake, flood, forest fire, hurricane, landslide, thunderstorm, tornado, tsunami and volcanoStudents are introduced to natural disasters, and learn the difference between natural hazards and natural disasters. They discover the many types of natural hazards — avalanche, earthquake, flood, forest fire, hurricane, landslide, thunderstorm, tornado, tsunami and volcano — as well as specific examples of natural disasters. Students also explore why understanding these natural events is important to engineers and everyone's survival on our planet. — as well as specific examples of natural disasters. Students also explore why understanding these natural events is important to engineers and everyone's survival on our planet. In this lesson, students are introduced to a multitude of geologic events and how engineers learn from these to secure our survival on Earth.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
GLE 0507.2.3
Establish the connections between human activities and natural disasters and their impact on the environment.
GLE 0507.7.1
Compare geologic events responsible for the earths major geological features.
GLE 0507.T/E.4
Recognize the connection between scientific advances, new knowledge, and the availability of new tools and technologies.
 
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Learning objectives: 

After this lesson, students should be able to:

  • Differentiate between a natural disaster and a natural hazard.
  • Name at least three different natural hazards.
  • Explain why engineers care about natural disasters.

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Understanding
Extension suggestions: 
  • Have students research specific natural disasters, making posters that describes them. Have them talk about what natural hazard caused each disaster as well as the effects and what might have been done to prevent or minimize the impact of the disaster.
  • As a side activity, have students learn more about potential and kinetic energy as they design and build a way to safely and accurately deliver relief goods (represented by an egg) to people in a natural disaster area with no road access. Similar to real-world engineering design teams, students must design their devices with constraints such as limited materials. This Bombs Away! activity is targeted for sixth-grade studens but may be suitable for grades 4-8.
  • Ask students to think about the types of natural disasters that might occur in the region in which they live. Then, imagining that a natural disaster occurs in their community, what have engineers created that would help students survive the dangerous situation? For example, if you are safe during a blizzard, what keeps you safe? Engineer-designed examples might include: Strong roof, insulated walls, heating system, lighting, communication devices (radio, television, phones), indoor plumbing and electricity, stoves and refrigerators, warm clothing made with modern fabrics, weather predicting and warning devices, safe vehicles, etc. Have them summarize in a one-page paper.

References

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