Right now, a hurricane off the coast of the United States is rapidly gaining strength and will likely reach the eastern side of North America by next week. While the situation is still developing, there is a high likelihood that this hurricane will cause severe property damage and endanger the lives of many people living along the Eastern Seaboard. In the past, hurricanes have wrecked havoc on the United States with their destructive winds and sweeping storm surges – a they’re not the only natural disaster plaguing society today. In Hawaii, massive wildfires have destroyed countless neighborhoods and left dozens of people homeless. Meanwhile, other US states have recently experienced earthquakes or are at a high risk of facing them in the future.

These events highlight just how important it is for students to be prepared and educated in the event of a natural disaster. Our planet is a dynamic system of powerful forces, and when students understand how they work, they are better equipped to help others and themselves in the event of an emergency. Below are just a few strategies that educators can implement in the classroom to ensure their students are ready when danger heads their way:

  • Create a Disaster Booklist: Reading is a great first step to learning about natural disasters. Consider having students participate in a classroom read-aloud featuring a book about specific natural disasters. The Magic School Bus Inside a Hurricane and The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen are excellent resources for introducing your students to the science of hurricanes and earthquakes. Additionally, books like Hope for Haiti and The Snow Walker can help students explore the social and emotional consequences  that occur in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
  • Look to History: Storms, fires, and earthquakes have been occurring for centuries, but some have had more impact than others. Take a moment to share which natural disasters have left the greatest impression on history and then follow up with questions that spark student curiosity. How would students reach if they had been part of the children’s blizzard? What factors made the 2005 Hurricane Katrina so destructive? The process should give them a greater understanding of how our response to natural disasters has changed over time.
  • Make Predictions: Meteorologists save lives by tracking a storm’s progress and making predictions about where it might make landfall. Take advantage of maps and radar provided by the National Weather Service and help your students practice plotting the path of a storm. Test their powers of prediction to see if they can determine which areas are in most danger and why a storm is moving in the direction that it is. This will allow students to think like scientists by turning them into real-life storm chasers!
  • Light the Bulb: One of the biggest dangers in any natural disaster is the loss of electricity. Students can help their friends and family prepare by learning how to create a temporary flashlight out of household products. First, provide students with some D-cell batteries, wires, playdough, and two 1.5 V bulbs. Next, add other household recyclables to encourage greater creativity. Finally, challenge them to find a way to light the bulb using only the materials they’ve been given.

If you found these strategies to be helpful, be sure to check out Blue Apple’s Disaster Detectives lessons. These free projects come with five unique activities that instruct students in the phenomena behind Earth’s most devastating natural disasters. Not only do these lessons teach students the science of blizzards, earthquakes, and hurricanes, but they also encourage them to get involved in preparation and disaster repair. We hope everyone is staying safe as hurricane Lee approaches, and we encourage you to reach out to disasterassistance.gov if you find yourself in need of aid. Stay safe!

For more free educational resources simply follow this link.

*Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons