InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Natural Hazards and Risks: Hurricanes > Instructor Materials: Module Overview > Unit 6: Predictions and Evacuation
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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The materials are free and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
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Unit 6: Predictions and Evacuation

Lisa Gilbert (Williams College), Josh Galster (Montclair State University), Joan Ramage (Lehigh Univeristy)

These materials have been reviewed for their alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards as detailed below. Visit InTeGrate and the NGSS to learn more.

Overview

Students take on roles of different stakeholders in a community and engage in a town hall meeting-type scenario to make a decision.

Science and Engineering Practices

Engaging in Argument from Evidence: Make and defend a claim based on evidence about the natural world or the effectiveness of a design solution that reflects scientific knowledge and student-generated evidence. HS-P7.5:

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions: Design, evaluate, and/or refine a solution to a complex real-world problem, based on scientific knowledge, student-generated sources of evidence, prioritized criteria, and tradeoff considerations. HS-P6.5:

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Natural Hazards: Natural hazards and other geologic events have shaped the course of human history; [they] have significantly altered the sizes of human populations and have driven human migrations. HS-ESS3.B1:

This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process. This rigorous, structured process includes:

  • team-based development to ensure materials are appropriate across multiple educational settings.
  • multiple iterative reviews and feedback cycles through the course of material development with input to the authoring team from both project editors and an external assessment team.
  • real in-class testing of materials in at least 3 institutions with external review of student assessment data.
  • multiple reviews to ensure the materials meet the InTeGrate materials rubric which codifies best practices in curricular development, student assessment and pedagogic techniques.
  • review by external experts for accuracy of the science content.

This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.


This page first made public: Aug 15, 2014

Summary

Students watch a video and read about past evacuations, including a premature or unnecessary evacuation, a late or botched evacuation, and about people determined to stay put no matter what. Students participate in a role-playing exercise about making the decision to evacuate in the face of uncertain predictions.

Learning Goals

After completing this unit students will be able to:

  • Make observations from several sources (newspaper, interview, video, personal account) about past evacuations.
  • Relate the importance of science in making public interest decisions.
  • Apply the concept of uncertainty in predictions.
  • Compare perspectives of different stakeholders and present those perspectives to the class in order to make or recommend a decision for a specific scenario.

This unit relates to the following Earth Science Literacy Big Ideas:

  • Natural hazards pose risks to humans.
  • There are a number of grand challenges facing society, and hurricanes are one example.

Context for Use

This unit is designed as a culminating activity of the Natural Hazards and Risks: Hurricanes module. The unit may be used in any course discussing natural hazards, or can be modified to fit a variety of earth, atmospheric, and marine science courses. The unit is appropriate for introductory-level college students considering the societal importance of natural hazards, or for upper-level students conducting more in-depth discussions of the economic, sociological, and other factors of evacuations. The unit can be implemented as an in-class discussion or panel, or modified to be used as a take-home individual essay or exam question.

Description and Teaching Materials

Video and Discussion

Have students watch the following 2-minute video (Quicktime MP4 Video 22.2MB Nov2 12) of a Connecticut resident discussing her decisions to evacuate for Irene in 2011 but remain at home for Sandy in 2012 and then discuss:

Hurricane Irene (2011), while devastating in parts of the country, did not affect the Connecticut coast very much. How do you think this impacted Connecticut coastal residents' response to the warnings about Sandy in 2012?

Generate List of Stakeholders

Instruct students to read the New York Times article on Hurricane Isaac (could be done as homework) and compile a list of stakeholders in an evacuation. Next, you or your students can select four to seven stakeholders for the scenario below (e.g., (1) scientists from the state department of environmental protection, (2) state department of transportation, (3) local fire department, (4) owners of bookstore, (5) local Red Cross chapter, (6) college president, (7) director of local hospital).

Scenario

(Student handout (Acrobat (PDF) 410kB Jul17 14)). Instruct students to work in pairs for 10 minutes representing one of the different stakeholders. Next, have students present their recommendation for evacuation (yes, no, timing of evacuation based on interests) to the class. The instructor should take notes on the board and then either make a decision (as the town mayor), or hold a vote (as if the class were the town council). To wrap up the activity the instructor can summarize that in the face of uncertain scientific data and competing interests, these decisions are not easy.

Roles for the panel. These can be modified by the instructor for particular situations or class sizes. Instructors can incorporate readings, prior discussions, and student research to outline the most probable dilemmas and positions for the decision maker(s) and stakeholders. Examples of stakeholders:

  1. Government official (mayor, governor)—weighs the costs of an evacuation against the costs of rescue, and considers the importance of timing. Note that the president of the United States does not decide when/where to evacuate.
  2. Federal agency (FEMA, other federal government representative)—adherence to mandatory evacuation orders directly affects aftermath. Note that the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) is directly responsible for processing loss claims.
  3. Scientists with local knowledge of floodplains will be able to give best assessment of key areas to evacuate and weigh timing of tides and landfall.
  4. Business owner (e.g., of a hardware store who wants to stay for fear of looting and stands to gain money selling things people need).
  5. Hardware store owner's husband (or other private citizen) who wants to leave because he does not think it is fair for the taxpayers to have to pay for unnecessary rescues.
  6. Single parent property owner who feels he has to stay because he does not have transportation for himself and his three kids. There is a difference between the property owner and the business owner in terms of security, loss, protection, emotional connection, and other factors.
  7. Mass transit official—get out, protect equipment and people, but may leave some stranded in advance of the hurricane (including, buses, trains, planes, and keeping roadways clear for emergency vehicles).
  8. First responders (National Guard w/local fire and police first, then FEMA, then Coast Guard to rescue)—want people out with plenty of lead time, less rescue resources needed.
  9. Hospital official will want to ensure patients are taken care of (many of whom might need power for life-maintaining equipment), and would want plenty of lead time for evacuation of the sickest.


Teaching Notes and Tips

  • Include the rubric with the question to help focus students' thoughts.
  • Instructors may want to refine the list of stakeholders for particular locations or storms.
  • Having students role-play is a great way for them to confront the issues and realize the range of perspectives and ways to deal with uncertainty. More about role-playing from SERC: http://serc.carleton.edu/introgeo/roleplaying/index.html.

Assessment

Exam question:

  • Explain the challenges of making the decision to evacuate prior to hurricane landfall 1) from the perspective of a local government official issuing such an order, and 2) from your own personal perspective, following such an order.
    Question.


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    Rubric.


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Panel assessment:

Alternative assessment 1:

  • Do a written self/peer evaluation of (a) delivery and (b) whether you were convinced.

(a) delivery: student used a clear voice and was well-organized (5= very, 3= somewhat, 0=not at all)

(b) convincing: presentation included data that helped logically make his or her point (5= very, 3= somewhat, 0=not at all)


Alternative assessment 2:

  • Part of being a scientist is being able to communicate to the general public. Write a press release to the public that clearly communicates the findings of the panel. (For example, you may want to include the overall decision, the rationale for why it was made, as well as the timing or different recommendations for different groups.)

Exceeds standard: eloquently crafted statement; perfectly summarizes panel findings and synthesizes those findings into a compelling summary with clear directives for the public.

Meets standard: clear and organized statement with clear instructions; accurately communicates panel findings

Below standard: some gaps in logic or organizational flaws or minor inaccuracies

Not acceptable: major inaccuracies and very difficult to decipher

References and Resources

Reading:

Additional related role-playing activities:

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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »