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Natural Disaster Risk at Home

Ian MacMillan, Pomona College

This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project

Summary

Students analyze the natural disaster threat and potential mitigation techniques of their (parents') home.

Learning Goals

Goals:

  • Apply classroom knowledge to students' non-academic daily life
  • Recognition of how earth processes specifically affect students

Skills:

  • 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.

Teaching Materials

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).

Assessment

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):

CALIFORNIA

NATIONWIDE

Subject

Geoscience:Geology:Tectonics, Geoscience:Hydrology:Surface Water, Environmental Science:Natural Hazards:Extreme Weather, Geoscience:Geology:Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology:Volcanology, Geoscience:Oceanography, Atmospheric Science:Meteorology:Extreme weather

Resource Type

Activities:Writing Assignment

Special Interest

Hazards

Grade Level

College Lower (13-14):Introductory Level

Earth System Topics

Solid Earth:Plate Tectonics, Earth Materials:Rocks, Solid Earth:Volcanoes, Oceans, Surface Processes:Weathering, Erosion, Mass Wasting, Hydrology, Human Dimensions:Natural Hazards, Atmosphere:Weather, Hydrology:Surface Water

Topics

Human Dimensions/Resources, Ocean, Earth surface, Hydrosphere/Cryosphere:Surface Water, Atmosphere, Solid Earth, Tectonics, Petrology:Volcanology

Theme

Teach the Earth:Teaching Topics:Water, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Hydrology/Hydrogeology, Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:Intro Geoscience, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Oceanography, Environmental Science, Teach the Earth:Teaching Topics:Weather, Teach the Earth:Incorporating Societal Issues:Hazards, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Atmospheric Science, Petrology, Teach the Earth:Teaching Topics:Plate Tectonics