Students Research Famous Natural Disasters

The fourth graders at Cardinal Pacelli have a new appreciation for what it means to survive a natural disaster. They spent a month researching catastrophic events and their impact on the environment.

The earth’s topography and landforms become much more interesting when you examine the impact that tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes can have on them. Students discovered that natural disasters leave indelible marks on the environment and the people who experience them.

Fourth grade teacher Allison Hills asked students to select a famous natural disaster, research it, and then present their findings in a model, poster, paper, Powerpoint or Prezi. She prefers this project-based approach to learning because it gives students greater autonomy. “This was a hands-on project that helped students build their presentation skills. It was up to them to decide on how to present their findings,” said Ms. Hills.

The day the projects were due made for an exciting day. A 3-D metal spiral represented the Joplin Tornado, a wall of blue Legos represented the Tohoku Tsunami, and an erupting paper mache mountain mimicked the Mt. Vesuvius Volcano. Students were eager to share details with classmates.

“I learned that some disasters don’t happen in just one day. In the days after an earthquake there can be aftershocks,” said Josie Hines.

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