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Teaching Activities


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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 % ...

Using a Town Meeting Scenario to Explore the Impacts of Hurricane Sandy
In this role-playing activity, students are assigned into groups which will explore specific roles related to Hurricane Sandy. A mock town meeting scenario where the community is requesting input for how to address the challenges of rebuilding their homes, businesses, and infrastructure allows for the class to learn more about the multiple perspectives, issues, and interests resulting from this devastating disaster.

The 2014 La Habra earthquake: Teaching Risk and Resilience in Southern California with Citizen Science
This exercise uses the example of the March 28, 2014 M5.1 La Habra earthquake to teach about earthquake risk and resilience in southern California. Students will examine seismic waveforms recording during the earthquake, as well as read reports from scientific agencies and news outlets to answer basic questions regarding earthquake risk and resilience.

Developing student literacy on risk, resilience, and strategies for living with disaster uncertainty
In this guided research and critical thinking activity, students prepare a research paper comprised of two parts: 1) a "state-of-the-science" review and synthesis of selected literature from risk and resilience research (provided) and 2) a brief critical appraisal of how current knowledge is (or could be) applied to building disaster resilience in a real-world scenario. Part 2 will be set in a student-selected hazard context (coastal hazards, flooding, or earthquake), employment sector (academia, government, private industry, services, non-profit), and geopolitical sphere of influence (e.g., Resilience to earthquake disaster in the student population at Universidad de Lima, Peru).

Mentos and soda eruptions- lessons on explosive volcanic eruptions
Students participate in a popular experiment with Mentos candies and soda. This helps them learn about the scientific method, gas saturation, bubble nucleation, and explosive volcanic eruptions.

Student-centered Experiments on Earthquake Occurrence Using the Seismic/Eruption Program
Students select their own region of interest and interrogate the earthquake catalog to obtain quantitative data on the rate of occurrence of earthquakes of various magnitudes within their chosen region.

Unit 2: Hurricane Formation
Hurricanes form as the atmosphere and ocean interact to transport a tremendous amount of energy. Students will read about the conditions necessary for hurricane formation, how a hurricane evolves at sea, how it ...

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Lab 3: Normal Climate Patterns
The lab activity described here was created by Betsy Youngman of Phoenix Country Day School and LuAnn Dahlman of TERC for the EarthLabs project. Summary and Learning Objectives Students generate and explore a ...

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Case Study 6.1- Adapting to a Changing World
In this activity, students consider how several communities are adapting to climate change-related problems including drought's impacts on agriculture, loss of assets due to climate-related hazards, freshwater ...

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Unit 4: Hazards from Flooding
In this unit, students examine detailed hydrologic data from one river to identify ways in which precipitation and stream discharge influence flooding which often impacts nearby human societies. They also research ...

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Unit 3: How Streams Change
Students use Google Earth to observe two river systems and characterize changes in gradient from the headwaters to the mouth, and relate changes in those gradients to different rock types. At one location, they ...

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