Natural Disaster Risk at Home
This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project
Students analyze the natural disaster threat and potential mitigation techniques of their (parents') home.
- Apply classroom knowledge to students' non-academic daily life
- Recognition of how earth processes specifically affect students
- Communication in writing
- Observation of local earth features (independent data collection)
- Independent critical analysis of data
Context for Use
This assignment was developed for a natural hazards class (non-majors); this task is usually assigned just before Thanksgiving break. At this point in the term, most natural hazard processes have been covered, and students should feel comfortable with basic mitigation practices. Because many students return home for the break, this assignment is an opportunity for them to apply what they have learned in a classroom and laboratory setting to something with which they are more familiar (i.e. their home). Students will also get a chance to use the many local resources that are available for disaster preparedness.
Download the two page handout (Microsoft Word 29kB Aug22 05) given to students describing this assignment.
Teaching Notes and Tips
For this assignment to work, the course needs to focus on mitigation techniques and how hazards affect humans specifically, in addition to the scientific principles behind natural hazards. A good text for this approach is Natural Disasters by P. Abbott (McGraw Hill).
Students turn in a 1-2 page write-up (see the handout (Microsoft Word 29kB Aug22 05) for this assignment). The instructor evaluates these to:
- Appraise students' writing style
- Evaluate completeness of students' analysis (were all major disasters covered?)
- Analyze students critical thinking skills (were the mitigation techniques appropriate?)
References and Resources
Potential resources (in addition to the textbook and class notes of course):
- Alquist-Priolo active fault zone map (This site has index map of mapped quads, however you will need to go the library for the maps themselves. They are available on cd.)
- Landslide/liquefaction maps (pdf's available from this site)
- Fire area maps
- Disclosure reports (ask your parents if they still have it from when they bought their house)
- FEMA Flood maps and weather hazard maps (handy web site for all kinds of hazards)
- USGS active fault maps (more info) (check out the cool interactive map as well linked on this site!)
- USGS volcanic hazard maps (follow the links on this site to get maps of your local volcano)
- Local city/county web pages