Natural hazards

Activity: Students will analyze and interpret data on natural hazards (earthquakes, landslides and tornados) to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their effects.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will explore maps of a natural hazard, earthquakes, in Wyoming and compare it earthquake patterns around the world 
  • Students will explore a world map of tectonic plate boundaries, then zoom into Wyoming to examine faults in order to gain understanding of geologic forces that cause earthquakes;
  • Students will explore maps of another natural hazard, landslides, and gain understanding about factors than contribute to landslides
  • Students will disucuss factors that make it difficult to predict when earthquakes and landslides will occur
  • Students will explore maps of a third natural hazard, tornados, and learn how remote sensing is used to monitor weather and predict tornado occurrence

    Standards

    Wyoming Science Standards (2016) MS-ESS3-2: Analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their effects.

    Natrona County School District S7.2.5 (Science, 7th grade):  Analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their effects.

     

    Lesson Plan

    Natural Hazards lesson plan

     

    Wyoming Science Standards (2016) MS-ESS3-2: Analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their effects.

     

    Grade level(s): 7

     

    Materials/Technology: 

    Instructional Time: two 45 minute periods (not including optional pretest/protest)

    Keywords: natural hazards, landslides, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, wildfire

    Instructional Component Type(s): Lesson Plan, interactive maps, worksheet (formative assessment), excerpt of video, demonstration, optional pretest/posttest

    LESSON CONTENT

    Main question:

    • Can natural hazards be predicted based on patterns of where they have occurred in the past?

    Learning Objectives:

    • Students will explore locations of a natural hazard, landslides, and gain understanding about factors that contribute to landslides
    • Students will explore patterns of other natural hazards around Wyoming (earthquakes, tornados, floods, wildfires) 
    • Students will discuss factors that make it difficult to predict when earthquakes and landslides will occur
    • Students will compare patterns of earthquakes and tornados in Wyoming in comparison to the rest of the United States and learn how knowing where these have occurred in the past helps us predict where they may occur in the future

    Prior Knowledge:

    • Students should be able to identify patterns in a set of data.
    • Students must have prior knowledge of logging onto the computer and accessing the internet.
    • Students must be familiar with these terms: prediction, probability
    • Students must know cardinal directions on a map (north, south, east, west) assuming that north is the top of the map (unless there is a north arrow or compass rose indicating a different direction)

     

     

     

    Procedure, first day

     

    Geoinquiry Process: Ask – can we see evidence of natural hazards on maps/imagery? (10 minutes)

     

    1. Natural hazards are events in nature that can have dangerous effects on humans or the environment. The better we can predict when and where natural hazards will occur, the more lives and money we can save.
    2. Have students go to http://atlas.wygisc.org and click on Science activities tab, then click on Natural Hazards (guided activity).  When this story map opens, have them click on the map to identify different natural hazards in Wyoming (tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, floods). Ask if they can think of any other (avalanches, drought, landslides).
    3. Show demo of landslide in Google Earth in Chrome. Type in “Lower Slide Lake” in the search. It will zoom and start rotating a 3D view (press the 3D button if necessary).
    4. Ask if anyone can identify the Gros Ventre landslide on the 3D view.
    5. Have students go to the next page in the story map with three different landslides. Tell students to click on the pins for more information and photos.
    6. Ask what year the Gros Ventre landslide occurred? [1925; no deaths during landslide but 6 people died later due to a flood]  Have them write answer to #1 on worksheet
    7. Click on the pin for the Gros Ventre landslide, then click on the Zoom to link at the bottom of the popup twice to zoom in really close
    8. Ask, is the landslide visible after over 90 years?
    9. What is one cause of the landslide? [weeks of heavy rain and melting snow]
    10. Ask, what is another cause of landslides? [Students that clicked on the Lake Hebgen landslide will know it was caused by an earthquake, and caused 28 deaths]
    11. Have students write answer to question #2 on worksheet
    12. Show students how to click on the Layers button and check on Landslide Susceptibility then show them how to zoom out and click on the Legend button to determine what category the Gros Ventre landslide falls in [Moderate susceptibility, low incidence]. This area is predicted to have landslides but not very often (incidence). If many landslides have already occurred nearby, good chance more will occur
    13. Write a list on the board of other possible factors that could be used for prediction: elevation, wind, temperature, steep slope, erosion, rainfall. Ask the students to pair up and come up with ideas about how to predict landslides, and if they can be predicted exactly or based on probability? [the last three can be used for prediction]. Ask if any groups chose steep slope and why? Erosion? Rainfall?
    14. Have students answer questions #3 and #4 on worksheet

     

     

    Geoinquiry Process: collect data (15 minutes) 

    1. We can see evidence of natural hazards on aerial photos. In this part of the class, students will see how well they can identify features from aerial photos of their town.  
    2. Split the students into pairs or triples and assign each team a color (their color will be used for the symbols they add to the map). Give each team a latitude/longitude coordinate of a recognizable place in or near their town. (see end of lesson plan for list). Have slips of paper with extra coordinates to give to students who have found their first coordinates to keep them working while other students complete this task.
    3. Demonstrate how to enter the coordinates into a shareable web map by typing in the latitude/longitude coordinates into the search bar.  Show how to zoom out to see context and to identify the locations on the aerial photo by their shapes and by other clues near by (roads or other buildings they might recognize). Remind students not to change or delete locations entered by other students.
    4. walk around the room as students are entering coordinates and help as necessary.

    Geoinquiry Process: Visualize/Explore  (15 minutes)

     

    1. Show the map that all teams have added locations to – it will be color coded by team. Look at locations and descriptions each team entered. Ask a couple teams what clues on the aerial photos they used to identify their location
    2. It's hard to see evidence of an earthquake or tornado on an aerial photo unless you can get photos of it soon after or unless it causes  landslides. However by recording where hazardous evens occur over time, we can look at locations on a map and find patterns.
    3. Show damage done by 2013 Moore Oklahoma tornado (F5) in https://storymaps.esri.com/stories/2013/mooretornado/.
    4. 6 years later, do you think you can still see the path of the tornado on satellite images? [you can’t see it on Google Maps]
    5. As pairs, have students explore a map of tornadoes and earthquakes in Wyoming and discuss how the patterns of where these occur in greater numbers are different. [More tornadoes in the east and more earthquakes in the west]
    6. Have students write answer to question #5 on worksheet

     

     

     

    Procedure, second day

     

    Review (5 minutes)

    1. Have students go back to http://atlas.wygisc.org and click on Science activities tab, then click on Natural Hazards (guided activity).  Review what natural hazards are in Wyoming [landslides, earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods, avalanches…]
    2. Landslides can occur anywhere there is a steep slope and unstable ground. What about earthquakes? [occur more often in western Wyoming]. Tornadoes? [eastern plains] – today we are going to explore the reasons behind these patterns.

    Earthquakes (5 minutes) 

    1. Have students look at the map of earthquakes around the world, and ask what causes earthquakes, does the pattern give you any clues? [movement in the earth’s crust, especially near tectonic plate boundaries].
    2. If Wyoming isn’t near any tectonic plate boundaries, why are there still many earthquakes, especially in western Wyoming? Zoom into Wyoming until the active faults in Wyoming show up.  [western Wyoming has more earthquakes because it has many active faults]
    3. Can we predict exactly when and where earthquakes will appear? [no, but we can determine probability of occurrence, based on where earthquakes have happened frequently in the past]. Have a student read the text alongside the map.
    4. Have students answer question 1 (map section) on worksheet, using a red marker to indicate where earthquakes occur on the map of the US.

    Tornados (8 minutes)

    1. Have the students move to the next page in the story map and ask what causes tornadoes? [weather, thunderstorms]
    2. Can we predict tornadoes? [we can get a few minutes warning when weather radar detects a circular pattern in storm clouds]
    3. Show locations of tornadoes in Wyoming then zoom out and pan across to the Great Plains. There are so many tornadoes in the Great Plains it is hard to see any patterns!
    4. Click the layers button (below “Tornados” on the map) and check on the tornado density map which helps us see patterns of where there are more tornadoes.
    5. Show students how to click the Layers button and check on elevation, temperature and precipitation maps of the US, one at a time, and compare with tornado density layer.
    6.  Have students pair up for two minutes for discussion, to determine which one (elevation, precipitation, landforms) most closely matches the patterns of tornados [Landforms; more tornadoes occur in the Great Plains and eastern forests – they are less likely to occur in the western deserts (not enough moisture) and in mountain areas.]
    7. Ask, how well can we predict when tornadoes will happen? Have them look at the graph of number of tornadoes by month. [We know tornadoes will happen more often in May and more often in the southern Great Plains and eastern forests, but we can’t predict exactly when or where they will happen. Doppler radar can detect when circular movements starts within a thunderstorm, giving sometimes up to 15 minutes warning of a tornado.]
    8. Have students answer question 2 (map section) on worksheet, using a blue marker to indicate where tornadoes occur on the map of the US.

     

    Wildfires and floods (10 minutes)

    1. Have students move to the next page in the story map (Where do wildfires and floods occur?)
    2. Wildfires are fires occurring in wild or rural areas – these do not include building fires. What causes wildfires? [people burning things, or lightning].
    3. Where are wildfires likely to occur? [unlike earthquakes and tornadoes, there isn’t a clear pattern, they can happen wherever there are things that can burn – trees, even sagebrush and grass. Note: the big 1988 Yellowstone fire doesn’t show up on this map, only recent wildfires. Students may look at the overall pattern of wildfires in the US: there are more in the west, probably because there is more open space]
    4. Can we predict wildfires? [If there hasn’t been rain in a long time, there is a higher chance]
    5. Have them answer question #1 (below map) on worksheet. [Because wildfires don’t have specific pattern, they are not asked to draw on a map]
    6. Where are floods likely to occur? [where there is a lot of rain, low areas where water accumulates]
    7. Why has there been a lot of flooding near Casper? [it’s along the river; there are more people living here – floods cause more damage than in areas where people don’t live or travel]
    8. Have them answer question #2 (below map) on worksheet.
    9. Which hazards can be seen on satellite images: landslides, earthquakes, tornadoes? [landslides, but not earthquakes or tornadoes unless they cause a lot of damage].
    10. Do you think we see wildfires on satellite images? Show the short video of the changes in satellite images before and after a wildfire on Casper Mountain.
    11. Ask what causes floods? [lots of rain].  How can we predict floods? [Heavy rainfall for a long time, floodplains are areas that commonly flood]
    12. Do you think we can see evidence of floods on satellite images that might help us predict where floods are likely to happen?
    13. Have students go to the next page in the story map (Can you tell areas that are likely to flood?) [Students should be able to identify flood areas from lower picture, satellite image of Laramie river.]
    14. Have students go to the next page in story map (Where do you predict flooding will occur?)

    Find areas in your town that might flood (5 minutes)

    • Assign students to 4 or 5 teams and show each team which section they should zoom into along the North Platte River. Remind them how to click the Pencil button to add points along the river where they think the river might flood. Give them three minutes to find locations and use two minutes to show results to entire class (pick a couple examples)

    Discussion (5 minutes)

    1. Ask them question #3 (below map) worksheet.
    2. Ask one student to share their answer and why. Ask if there is anyone with a different answer. [possible answers: earthquakes because we know where the active faults are; floods because we can see flood plains]
    3. Have students answer question #4 on worksheet independently.
    4. Ask them question #5 (below map) on worksheet.
    5. Ask one student to share their answer and why. Ask if there is anyone with a different answer. [possible answers: tornadoes, because radar can tell us when thunderstorms happen and when they form circular motion; floods because we can measure how much rain is falling and how much water is rising]
    6. Have students answer question #6 on worksheet independently.
    7. Ask them question #7. Ask one student to share their answer and why. Ask if there is anyone with a different answer. [correct answer: wildfires. They can happen anywhere there is material to burn, and they can be caused by lightning which can strike anywhere]