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Utah Science

Curriculum Consortium

Tyson Grover 

tgrover@dsdmail.net

Annette Nielson

afonnesbeck@dsdmail.net

Storyline Narrative 8.4.5

 

Big Idea: There are patterns in the occurrences of natural hazards and these patterns can be used to predict future catastrophic events.  Why does Oklahoma get many strong tornadoes each year while Utah only gets a few small ones?

 

This standard is a guided, multi-step research project in which students will become citizens of fictional cities in a fictional land that faces many possible natural hazards. Each student will become expert on one or two natural hazards that have the potential to cause destruction to human life and property. They will propose methods to mitigate the effects of these hazards using technology.  In the course of this project they will explore examples of hazards, how scientists decide where these hazards are a risk, why hazards occur, how they can be predicted, and how we can mitigate their effects. Students will then present their findings to the class.

 

Episode one introduces the activity. In this activity, students will become citizens of a city in a fictional country. They will generate a definition of a natural hazard and identify how hazard events can change the stability of human lives and structures as well as natural features in the landscape. As a group, the students will explore specific examples of natural hazards from current events and ask questions about them. They will then begin to define the possible problems natural hazards may cause for their fictional city.

 

In episode two the students will map the locations of recent occurrences of a hazard faced by the US. They will then look for patterns in the occurrences of this hazard then analyze and interpret these patterns to make predictions for where this hazard might occur in the future.

 

In the third episode students will evaluate various maps of hazards that affect the US and compare them to a physical map of the US to look for possible causes of these hazards. They will then obtain information about the causes of these hazards and communicate their findings to their groups. They will then determine which of the hazards from their list in episode one are actually a risk for their fictional city. This is the first step of the student’s research project. The students will next obtain information about signs that may precede these events and warn us that a disaster is imminent.  This is step two in their research project.

Students will also explore the hazards that are present in the real-life community in which they live.

 

In episode four students will conduct the final stage of their research. Now that they have explained the causes of the hazard and the signs that the hazard event is about to occur, they will define possible solutions for the hazard using technology to reduce loss of life and damage to property when it occurs. Students will explore the various technologies we use to mitigate the effects of natural hazards such as modifying the structure of human constructions to withstand or resist the hazard.

 

Episode five is an optional episode that explores one way people have attempted to use technology to mitigate the effects of a natural hazard, in this case earthquakes, by modifying structures. Students will design towers to resist movement generated by earthquakes.

 

In the final episode, each city will prepare a final report that they will present to the ruler of their fictional country. They will explain why their city is worth protecting, the hazards that put their city at risk, the causes of these hazards, and then argue for funding for the technologies their city needs to protect itself from these hazards.  As a country the citizens will vote on the best places to install technology to protect the country against natural hazards.

 

This standard has potential for cross-curricular activities. In history classes the students could decide on a form of government for their city. In language arts the students could write historical stories or legends about their city.


 

Questions:

  • Which hazards are a risk in the area in which I live?

  • How often do these disasters happen?

  • What causes these disasters to happen?

  • How much damage and what kind of damage do these disasters cause?

  • Do any of these hazards occur together?

  • What can we do to prevent these disasters or mitigate their effects?

 

Assessment:

 

Students are given an example of a city and the geography that surrounds it. They will explain how scientists would determine what natural hazards might affect the city, name some possible hazards that would affect the city, explain why they are a hazard for this location, and propose possible solutions using technology.

Episode 0

Students become citizens of a city in a fictional country that will ultimately need to be protected from natural hazards. This episode is preparation that must be completed before the students are introduced to natural hazards with the phenomenon in episode 1.

Conceptual Understandings

Natural hazards are risks of naturally occurring events that can cause damage to human life and property.

How do scientists know what hazards are a risk to an area?

Are there patterns in the occurrences of natural hazards?

Snapshot

Students experience a phenomenon in which earthquakes of similar energy that occurred in two different cities are compared. They will make observations and ask questions about why the effects were so different for the two earthquakes. The students will explore specific examples of natural hazards from current events and ask questions about them. They will then begin to define the possible problems natural hazards may cause for their fictional city.

Episode 1

Question

What are natural hazards?

 

Episode 2

Question

Are there patterns in the occurrences of natural hazards?

Snapshot

In this episode the students will map the locations of recent occurrences of a hazard faced by the US. They will then look for patterns in the occurrences of this hazard then analyze and interpret these patterns to make predictions about where this hazard might occur in the future.

Conceptual Understandings

Scientists use data about past hazard occurrences to create hazard maps that can be used to predict future events.

What causes natural hazards to occur?

Can we predict when all natural hazard events will occur?

What hazards are a risk to my community?

 

Conceptual Understandings

Natural hazards are caused by the geology, geography, and weather that an area experiences.

Some natural hazard events are preceded by events that allow us to predict their occurrence. Others occur without warning.

What can we do to mitigate the effects of these hazards?

Snapshot

Students obtain and evaluate information about the causes of natural hazards and communicate their findings. The students will next obtain information about signs that may precede these events and warn us that a disaster is imminent.  Students will also explore the hazards that are present in the real-life community in which they live.

Episode 3

Question

Can we predict natural hazard events?

 

Episode 4

Question

How can we use technology to mitigate the effects of natural hazards?

Snapshot

Students define possible solutions for natural hazards using technology to reduce loss of life and damage to property when it occurs.

Conceptual Understandings

While it is impossible to prevent all damage from natural hazards, there are things we can do  to reduce the negative effects using technology.

What is a specific example of a way technology is used to reduce the negative effects of a natural hazard?

 

Conceptual Understandings

There are ways buildings can be designed that will reduce the likelihood of damage or collapse during an earthquake.

If funding is limited, what technology will be the best investment and be most effective at keeping cities safe?

Snapshot

This is an optional episode that explores one way people have attempted to use technology to mitigate the effects of a natural hazard, in this case earthquakes. Students will design towers to resist movement generated by earthquakes.

Episode 5

Question

How can we use technology to mitigate the effects of earthquake hazards?

 

Episode 6

Question

What technologies will be the best investments in keeping our fictional country safe?

Snapshot

In this final episode, each city will prepare a final report that they will present to the ruler of their fictional country. They will explain why their city is worth protecting, the hazards that put their city at risk, the causes of these hazards, and then argue for funding for the technologies their city needs to protect itself from these hazards.  As a country the citizens will vote on the best places to install technology to protect against natural hazards.

Conceptual Understandings

When deciding how to invest funds in technology used to mitigate the effects of natural hazards we should consider how often the hazard occurs, how expensive the technology is, how effective the technology has been in the past, and how much damage the hazard is likely to cause.