How natural are natural disasters?

In March and April of 2017, students in Year 8 embarked upon a joint STEM and Humanities and Arts expedition which was called Disaster!.

The learning targets were:

  • I can explain how Tectonic plate movement leads to Tsunami’s and Earthquakes
  • I can discuss how the effects and responses to a natural hazard vary between hazards
  • I can show how transverse and longitudinal waves contribute to earthquakes and tsunamis
  • I can explain the chemistry of oxidation reactions
  • I can investigate the suitability of apparatus to measure the frequency, wavelength and speed of waves in a ripple tank and waves in a metal rod
  • I can analyse language, form and structure used by a writers to create meanings and effects
  • I can write a section of an article to inform a specific audience
  • I can use experimental and theoretical probability to calculate risk
  • I can decide the appropriate probability for a given event
  • I compare statistical methods

The immersion activities were focused on engaging students in the phenomena of natural hazards. Students spent time investigating what determines a natural hazard linking this specifically to volcanoes. This was followed up with a mystery text describing the aftermath of a natural hazard. Finally students investigated the flow rates of lava and took on specific roles within a disaster scenario on the island of Montserrat. During the scenario students practised making decisions and mapping effects in an effort to determine the best scenario for the people on the island.

The expedition was split into four different case studies. Students began by studying plate tectonics and the way in which these lead to the formation of earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. With this information, students then looked at a range of hazards; volcanic, earthquake, tsunami case studies were used to represent the  elements of our earth.

In the next case study students began analysing the anchor text ‘Hold tight, Don’t let go’. Students then used this knowledge alongside their hazard case studies to write articles in the style of National Geographic and WideWorld.

To build students knowledge of each case students investigated the science behind waves in relation to tsunamis and earthquakes. They also looked at the chemistry of combustion as an oxidising reaction and further developed their knowledge of the elements and their organisation in the periodic table.

In the final case study, students studied the probability of risk associated with a range of everyday and less likely events such as a terrorist attack.

The product as a result of the expedition, was a trivia game based on the research and conclusions draw from their case studies.  Board games were designed to test students knowledge of the science, maths and geography of a disaster.

Finally, students culminated the expedition presenting their board games to students at Hayfield School to play and assess their knowledge.

All resources relating to this expedition can be found below:

Expedition Posts

Final Product – Winning Board Game with card designs and questions


C21 Disasters

In the 2016 the same expedition had a different final product with students designing and testing earthquake proof buildings.

Example pitch of earthquake resistant building