Almost everyday a natural disaster occurs somewhere in the world. These disasters include volcano eruptions, flooding, hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes, and more.
Most students rarely have a personal encounter with the effects of natural disasters, during their school years. However, almost all will have an encounter sometime during their lifetime.
The most common encounter for everyone with a natural disaster is by watching TV or reading about them on the Internet. This leads to little personal interaction and understanding of the causes of the disaster.
There is one technology today which allows students to watch natural disasters unfold or see the effects after they have occurred — Google Earth.
This free technology provides students with a bird’s eye view of a natural disaster area with remarkable high resolution. Students and teachers have access to this technology and they can investigate the cause and effect of any natural disaster in the world.
Project Based Learning: Studying the Effects of Disasters
When word of a natural disaster is spreading from somewhere in the world or announced on the news, students can use Google Earth to conduct an investigation of the disaster’s effect.
If enough warning is given, for example a hurricane or typhoon; students can view the expected land fall areas before the storm strikes. Then they can view the effects after the hurricane or typhoon passes through the area.
Other natural disasters students can investigate include:
- Volcano Eruptions – investigating lava flows, impact on surrounding vegetation, impact of surrounding region, and if there will be a global impact.
- Earthquakes – investigating the impact on cities, human development activities, and land masses.
- Major Floods – investigating flooded regions, along with impact on watersheds.
- Tsunamis – investigating the destructive power of Tsunamis, by comparing before and after images of a seashore area and surrounding landscape.
Problem Solving: Studying the Cause and Effect of Specific Natural Disasters
Students develop and create a variety of questions to guide their investigations related to a natural disaster. Then use Google Earth, Online Media, News Reports, Twitter, and Skype to follow through on their investigations. Examples include:
- What is the impact on local residents?
- What is the impact on the stability of man made dikes that hold back flood waters?
- What continents are likely to be affected by the ash fallout from the volcano eruption?
- What protection measures did the region have before the Tsunami struck the coast?
- What type of plates make up the San Andres fault in California?
- What other volcanoes are in the area and are they likely to erupt?
Additional Science Projects Using Google Earth