Earth Science
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • Earth Science
  • Earthquakes
  • EmergingCRT
  • Tsunamis
  • Volcanoes
  • earth-science
  • earthquakes
  • emergingcrt
  • tsunamis
  • volcanoes
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    Education Standards

    Disaster Research: Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and Volcanic Eruptions


    Students investigate major earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions that happened in recent history.  They also consider living conditions, average cost of living, and average income for the areas affected by the disasters.  Through group and class discussion, the concepts of social justice are critically analyzed while reinforcing scientific concepts.

    Student Instructions

    Part 1: Research

    In your group, you will be researching specific earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or tsunamis.

    Each person in the group will research a different occurrence within your given category.

    The group will create a Google Slides presentation.

    Each person is responsible for creating 1-2 slides about the specific occurrence researched.

    On the slide(s), the following information should be neatly presented in YOUR OWN WORDS:

    1. Your name

    2. Date of the occurrence (For earthquakes and tsunamis, this must be within the last 10 years.  For volcanic eruptions, this must be within the last 25 years.)

    3. Location of the occurrence

    4. Major characteristics (Earthquakes: magnitude; Tsunamis: wave height/speed of wave; Volcanic Eruption: type of volcano/eruption)

    5. Damage (amount in $; Earthquakes may use Mercalli scale if found)

    6. Lives lost and/or inured (# of deaths; # of injured)

    7. Before & After pictures

    8. Living conditions of the location (types of housing; industries; water cleanliness; safety; politics; culture)

    9. Average cost of living in the location

    10. Average income of the location

    Each person will be graded on how accurate the information is, following directions, and including all of the required information.

    Part 2: Small Group Discussion

    In your group, each person will take 1-2 minutes to share the information from the occurrence researched and outlined in the slide(s).

    After each person has shared, look at the information provided on Living conditions, Average cost of living, and Average income for the United States and North Carolina: (note: This information is based on 2017-2020 and compiled by a science teacher, not an economics analyst.)

    United States:

    • Living conditions: top housing; industrialized; clean water; sewage treatment facilities; gun crimes are high but overall safe; expensive healthcare; public education; democracy; capitalism; individualism and equality are valued
    • Average cost of living = $63,000 per year
    • Average income = $63,000 per year

    North Carolina:

    • Living conditions: expensive housing; Research Triangle Park; agriculture; burglaries are high but overall safe; strong sense of community; mostly Republican; beach and mountains; barbecues; connections to colonial and Confederate roots
    • Average cost of living = $53,000 per year
    • Average income = $30,000 per year

    Then, create a "Thoughts" slide(s) at the end of the Group GoogleSlides.

    As you consider and discuss each of the following questions, add important ideas about the social and cultural impact of the disaster events.

    1. What similarities or differences do you notice about the severity of the disaster events?

    2. How do the living conditions, average cost of living, and average income play a role in the damage and lives impacted by the disaster?

    3. How do the living conditions, the average cost of living, and average income play a role in recovering from the disaster?

    4. What similarities and differences do you notice between these locations and your own?

    5. Who do you think should be responsible for recovery after a disaster?  Why should they be responsible?  What would fulfilling that responsibility look like to you?

    Part 3: Class Discussion

    On an index card, write 2-3 sentences about what you found most interesting during your group discussion.

    Listen carefully as volunteers from each disaster type share their thoughts.

    Participate in the discussion by responding to other classmates or/and teacher questions.

    Teacher-Facilitated Questions for Class Discussion

    Questions after Student Sharing: (Teacher-facilitated)

    1. Are there any patterns you notice in the responses? (If discussion does not naturally progress, ask the next questions.)

    2. How do living conditions affect people recovering from disasters?

    3. How do the cost of living and income play a role in recovering from disasters?

    4. Who should pay for recovering after a disaster?  Are they currently fulfilling that responsibility? Why or Why not?

    5. How can we make sure people recovering from a disaster are treated fairly?