Natural Disasters - Blake ??IU21 Natural Disasters Middle Primary ... doing so increased the likelihood for a natural disaster. Science 3.2Relate changes in the physical ... 2 Natural Disasters

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  • NaturalDisasters

    Blakes Topic B


    Each integrated unit contains: 6 pages of teaching notes in an integrated teaching sequence 10 practical blackline masters National Profile outcomes A useful resource list

    IU21 NaturalDisasters

    Middle Primary

    by Jane Campbell

  • Blake Education Natural Disasters Integrated Unit



    Learning Area Focus ScienceTopic Students will be encouraged to research the different natural disasters that happen around the world.They will become aware that earthquakes, volcanoes, bushfires, floods, drought, damage and diseases caused bypests, and storms such as cyclones, hurricanes and tornadoes can cause an enormous threat to both lives andproperty. Students will investigate why these disasters can occur and why some people knowingly live in theseareas. The benefits these disasters can bring is also examined, for example the floods in Egypt used to bringfertile silt and water to the people around the Nile. Throughout this unit, students will develop an awareness ofthe fragility of our environment and how important it is to look after it.

    National Profile Outcomes Students will:

    Science 3.1 Describe situations where people havealtered the landscape for their own needs and indoing so increased the likelihood for a naturaldisaster.

    Science 3.2 Relate changes in the physicalenvironment to the physical process when making amodel of a flood.

    Science 3.13 Suggest ways of finding informationby listing sources of information such as CD-ROMsand factual books.

    Science 3.14 Organise and use equipment to gatherand to present information about droughts.

    Science 3.18 Identify ways science is usedresponsibly in the community by finding out aboutoccupations such as glaciology and vulcanology.

    Technology 3.2 Generate designs of one or morenatural disasters that use a range of technical terms.

    Technology 3.7 Match characteristics of materialsto the requirement of their own designs whenbuilding models of natural disasters.

    SOSE 3.2 Present a timeline of natural disasters.

    SOSE 3.5 Describe how natural features affect theways people live in particular places.

    ResourcesFactual BooksNick Arnold, Volcano, Earthquake and Hurricane, Wayland.Dugal Dixon, The Earth, Hamlyn.Michael Dugan, Australian Disasters: Cyclones, Macmillan.Claire Llewellyn, Wild, Wet and Windy, Walker Books.Mark Manual, Hazards, Cambridge University Press.Philip Steele, Rocking and Rolling, Walker Books.Susanna van Rose, The Collins Earth Atlas, HarperCollins.Jane Walker, Natural Disasters: Avalanches and Landslides,Gloucester Press.

    Julia Waterflow, The Violent Earth: Flood, Wayland.

    Picture BooksSheila Hatherley, Lazy Boy, Macmillan.Robert Roennfeldt, Tiddalick the Frog who Caused a Flood,Picture Puffin.

    Richard Tulloch, Rain for Christmas, OUP.

    NovelsHelen Brinsmead, When You Came to the Ferry, Hodder and Stoughton.

    June Epstein, When Tracy Came for Christmas, OUP.Kylie Tennant, All the Proud Tribesmen, Macmillan.

    Natural Disastersby Jane Campbell

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  • Blake Education Natural Disasters Integrated Unit


    Natural DisastersTeaching NotesOverview

    Disaster discussionWrite natural disasters on a large piece of chartpaper and display it on the wall. Place studentsinto small groups and ask them to discuss whatthese words mean. Also encourage students toname different types of natural disasters. Oncegroups feel they cannot go any further with theirdiscussions, come together as a class. Ask students:

    What is meant by the term natural disaster?

    Can accidents such as car crashes or trainderailments be classified as natural disasters?

    When does something become a naturaldisaster?

    With students, brainstorm different types of naturaldisasters. Write these on the chart paper. Thencreate a class definition for a natural disaster andwrite it underneath. Ensure students realise thatsomething becomes a disaster when it threatenseither a large number of lives or properties, orboth, and in doing so creates a long recovery orrebuilding process. A natural disaster (as opposedto other types of disasters such as train crashes) issomething that happens because of nature. Theycan be classified as geological (earthquakes,volcanoes, landslides, tsunamis, etc),meteorological (flood, drought, hailstorms,cyclones, fires, etc) or biological (plagues, famine,parasitic infections of plants and animals, etc).Discuss what is meant by theses terms. Placestudents into pairs and using BLM 1, ask them toclassify the disasters listed on the chart paper.Challenge each pair to find other types of disastersand to include them on their lists. When lists arecompleted, ask for volunteers to read them out.Ask students if some disasters can fall into morethan one category. Explain, for example, that a firecan be caused by lightning or an earthquake.

    Finding informationAsk students if they know where to find booksabout natural disasters. Do they know how tosearch for books using the on-line catalogues, andthen how to locate them on the shelf? Do theyknow how to find information on the Internet?Organise a trip to the school library or a publiclibrary. With students, find and retrieve books onnatural disasters. By using aids, such as the indexand contents pages of the books, ask students toinvestigate different types of natural disasters.

    During the course of this unit, encourage studentsto browse through newspapers to see if they canfind information about natural disasters that haverecently happened somewhere in the world.Students could cut out the articles to compile aclass scrapbook. Discuss the size of these disastersand how it affects the people involved.

    Natural timesExplain to students that natural disasters haveoccurred throughout history. Place students intopairs or in small groups and ask them to create atimeline of natural disasters. You might like tosuggest a starting point for them or leave it toindividual groups to decide how far back in timeto go and how comprehensive to make it. Anotheroption is to give each group one type of naturaldisaster to research, such as earthquakes. Whencompleted, have students present their timeline toclass members. Display them around the room.Encourage students to revisit these timelines as theunit progresses as they should provide usefulsources of information.

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  • Blake Education Natural Disasters Integrated Unit


    Types of natural disasters

    EarthquakesAsk students if they know why an earthquakehappens. Explain to students that the Earth has anouter layer or crust. This crust is formed from anumber of separate thick plates of solid rock thatsit on another layer of the Earth, the mantle. Themantle consists of hot molten rock called magma.The continents were created by the movements ofthe plates coming together and splitting apart.They are still moving today. When plates run intoeach other, the underground collision can cause theground above to move. When this happens, itscalled an earthquake.

    Allow students to browse through the books ondisplay. Brainstorm places earthquakes haveoccurred. Ask if anyone knows why earthquakesoccur at certain places. Explain that earthquakesform along fault lines such as the San Andreasfault. Fault lines form when rocks break apart, orcrack, under the pressure of plate movement.Encourage students to find out the names of theother fault lines and where they are located. Whatareas are at risk from earthquakes?

    Moving apartDemonstrate to students a simple example of howfault lines work. Place two towels, or mats, on thefloor. Sit a student on each towel. Ask classmembers to pretend that these towels are housesand that the students are neighbours in SanFrancisco. (You could place a map of the world onthe wall and point out where San Francisco is.)Explain that although these towels areneighbouring houses, one towel is on the PacificOcean plate while the other towel is on theAmerican continental plate. Encourage students toimagine they are back in 1906 when the SanAndreas Fault suddenly moved three metres. Theresulting earthquake and fire killed over 450people and seriously damaged San Francisco. Haveclass members hold one end of each towel anddrag them three metres apart. Explain these are thecontinental plates moving in opposite directions.Discuss with students what would happen if ahouse or a road covered both of these plates.

    Shaky livingThere have been many disastrous earthquakesthroughout history. Place students in pairs and askthem to research earthquakes. They could use thefollowing questions as a guide.

    How long can an earthquake last?

    What happens during an earthquake?

    What are aftershocks?

    In what parts of the world do earthquakeshappen?

    Can earthquakes be measured?

    Can we predict earthquakes?

    Can earthquakes be prevented?

    Are buildings, roads and people safe fromearthquakes?

    What might happen if there was an earthquakenear a mountain?

    Why do tsunamis (giant waves) occur?

    Measuring earthquakesHow can the strength of an earthquake bedetermined? With students, brainstorm methods ofmeasuring earthquakes, for example scientificmethods using the Richter scale or a seismograph;economic methods such as the costs of repairinghouses and roads; and by counting the number ofinjuries and fatalities, etc. Have students completeBLM 2 to show that they understand some of thedifferent ways of measuring earthquakes.

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  • Blake Education Natural Disasters Integrated Unit


    VolcanoesWith students, brainstorm all they know aboutvolcanoes. If necessary, explain that a volcanoforms when there is a gap in the Earths crust.Molten rock, ash and gas can rise out of the gapsonto the surface. The molten rock is known aslava. Volcanoes are usually mountains formed fromthe lava that has risen to the surface of the Earth.Like earthquakes, volcanoes are usually foundalong the edge of huge plates which make up theEarths crust. To further their understanding ofvolcanoes, ask students to complete BLM 3.

    Volcanoes varyThere are different ways of classifying volcanoes,for example by shape: shield, cinder cone,composite and lava cone; by eruption: Pelean,Vulcanian, Strombolian, Hawaiian and Icelandic;or by activity: dormant, active and extinct.Encourage students to find out what these termsmean.

    There are about 500 active volcanoes in the worldtoday. Give each student a copy of BLM 4 and askthem to select and research a particular volcano.Students might like to make their own volcano toinclude in the class presentation.

    Once all students have presented their work, writethe headings, similarities and differences onchart paper and have students compare thevolcanoes by giving examples.

    Give students BLM 5 and ask them to mark thelocation of all the major volcanoes.

    Avalanches and landslidesWith students, discuss avalanches and landslides.Establish that they consist of an enormous mass ofsnow, rock or mud that crashes down from amountain or a hillside at an incredibly fast speed.They can engulf and destroy entire villages in amatter of minutes. As students learnt earlier in thisunit, landslides and avalanches can be triggeredoff by an earthquake, but there are other reasons.Discuss what these might be. Can people causelandslides? (e.g. landslides might occur because ofquarrying, building roads, deforestation or heavyrain.) Is there anything that can be done toprevent landslides and avalanches?

    Wild windsHurricanes, cyclones, willy-willies and typhoonsare all storms with incredibly strong and powerfulwinds. Place students into pairs or groups andallocate one type of storm to each. The followingquestions could be used as a guide.

    What is the difference between hurricanes,cyclones, willy-willies and tornadoes?

    What causes the storm?

    Where do they occur?

    Is wind the only natural element involved?

    What is the eye of the storm?

    What damage can these storms do?

    Give examples of some of the major storms, e.g.Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin in 1974. (These couldbe added to the class timelines.)

    Encourage students to present their information inany format they consider appropriate, for examplean information report, an interview, etc.

    Stormy timesHave students design their own tropical stormwarning poster. You might like to suggest that itincludes advice on how to prepare for a storm andwhat to do when one hits.

    FloodsAsk students what is a flood (a flood happenswhen water pours over land that is normally dry).Ask them to give reasons why floods might occur,for example because of an earthquake, tsunamis,storms and heavy rain, melting glaciers, humanneglect (such as not maintaining dam walls) andhuman interference (draining wetlands, cuttingrivers off from their natural flood plains).Brainstorm methods of controlling or preventingfloods, for example building dams, barriers anddykes in areas that are prone to flood;reforestation; building on high ground; changingfarming methods, etc.

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  • Blake Education Natural Disasters Integrated Unit


    Ask students to research floods and to make amodel of one. Try to ensure that students modeltheir floods on events that occurred in differentcountries around the world, for example the banksof the Mississippi River breaking or a storm in theNetherlands causing the sea level to rise above thedykes. So as not to flood the classroom, go into theplayground when models are being demonstrated.With students, discuss the different models and listthe reasons why these floods occurred. Askstudents if floods are always disastrous. Explainthat floods can be natural occurrences that benefitthe Earth. For example, before a dam was made inEgypt, the Nile River used to flood in June everyyear. The floods brought water and fertile silt forthe crops, as well as water for drinking, swimmingand washing.

    DroughtsAsk students what a drought is. Establish that adrought can occur when there is a severe dry spellduring which the expected rain does not fall andthe ground water seeps further down and awayfrom the surface. This causes the surface of theground to get drier and dustier and contributes tothe impact of soil erosion and dust storms. Providestudents with BLM 6 and ask them to predictwhat will happen to the water. Then ask them tocomplete the experiment and to comment on whathappened.

    Dry workHave students, either individually or in pairs, findout about droughts. Questions to research mightinclude:

    What is a drought?

    What causes a drought?

    What are the effects of a drought on people,plants and animals?

    How long can droughts last for?

    Can we predict droughts?

    Ask students to present their research in anentertaining yet informative way. They might liketo present their information as an interview or aplay.

    Water more or less?Explain to students that water is continually beingcirculated around the world. The water in theocean, rivers, lakes, etc is heated by the sun and itevaporates into the air. The vapour conde...


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