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Teaching Activities


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Shaking Ground - Linking Earthquake Magnitude and Intensity
An in-class activity for connecting earthquake magnitude, shaking, and intensity.

Frequency of Large Earthquakes -- Introducing Some Elementary Statistical Descriptors
Spreadsheets Across the Curriculum module. Students examine the number of large earthquakes (magnitude 7 and above) per year for 1970-1999 and 1940-1999. QL: descriptors of a frequency distribution.

Flood Days and Good Canoeing Days at Congaree National Park
SSAC Geology of National Parks module/Geology of National Parks course. Students calculate probabilities using USGS hydrograph data, a spreadsheet of daily stage heights, and the COUNTIF function.

Where's the volcanic threat?
Students investigate Costa Rican volcanic hazards using (a) the amount of silica in volcanic rocks, (b) a highly-simplified geologic map and (c) a satellite image of Costa Rican night time illumination (i.e., human ...

Investigating slope failure and landscape evolution with red beans and rice!
Students investigate the behavior of a slope profile over geological timescales using a very simple experimental apparatus. The lab allows students to understand concepts of equilibrium, controls on slope profile, ...

Evaluating Rainfall, Landslides, and Weather: Big Sur, California
This activity leads to understanding common landslide hazards in the area and how they relate to weather patterns and/or local geology.

The Science of Disasters eTextbook Activity
The Science of Disasters etextbook is a Softchalk activity designed to give students an introduction to disaster terminology including risk and resiliency. It is typically used as a pre-reading assignment for non-science majors in an introductory disasters class.

Comparison of Two Hurricanes
In this activity students synthesize ideas from lecture, reading, and viewing two PBS NOVA videos on hurricanes.

Family Stress theories and risk communication to evaluate and build family resilience
In this activity, students use theoretical knowledge about family stress theories to analyze family vignettes and make predictions about the level of risk or resilience each family might have should a natural disaster occur. To increase resilience, risk communication strategies are discussed.

Evaluating natural hazards data to assess the risk to your California home
Students use a series of maps and natural hazard data to evaluate the risk to a building structure of their choice in the state of California. For each hazard, students rate the potential risk in two dimensions: (1) Probability - probability that a hazardous event "may" occur, and (2) Severity of Impact - the size of the impact in terms of cost and impact on human health.

Developing a Multi-Hazard Mitigation Strategy
As a culminating assignment in Natural Hazards Planning, students work in teams to create 15-year mitigation strategy for a selected jurisdiction using the FEMA 386 methodology for prioritizing mitigation options.

Tsunami of the North Atlantic Ocean
In this assignment students plot the tectonic setting, major cities, and economic centers of the Atlantic Ocean. They consider tsunami triggers and whether they are relevant. Students are presented with three ...

How myths form: Accounts from Mt. Pelee
This is a great activity for class sizes ranging from small seminars to lecture classes. It's particularly appropriate for courses that relate hazards/volcanism to culture, society, and human interest subjects ...

A Kinesthetic Demonstration for Locating Earthquake Epicenters
A kinesthetic activity for students to understand the technique for locating the epicenter of an earthquake. It is performed indoors and outdoors in three lessons.

Natural Hazards on the Island of Hawaii
In this jigsaw activity, students discover four different aspects of natural hazards on the Island of Hawaii. The goal for students is to design a hazard zone map that combines these four topics and that could be ...

Living with Volcanoes: An Introduction to Geoarchaeology
This activity introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of geoarchaeology through a case study of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE. It combines short lectures with questions requiring analyses of a ...

Understanding flood risk at the community level
University level activity on floodplain risks. Uses FEMA maps and SERC river geomorphology videos.

Ground Shaking and Damage at Your House
In this activity, students use a seismic hazard map from the USGS to estimate the ground shaking hazard in their community. The map shows a 10% probability of ground accelerations reaching or exceeding a certain % ...

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