The unit, "Making Waves: A Study of Earthquakes and Tsunami" is designed for a twelfth grade environmental studies curriculum. The goal of the unit is to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of plate tectonics and how they affect the occurrence of earthquakes and tsunami around the world. Students will be made aware of how the Earth is divided into tectonic plates and how the plates move in different directions and at different speeds. They will familiarize themselves with the locations of plate boundaries and the effects that the different movements of these plates have on the occurrence of earthquakes and tsunami.
In studying these phenomena, students will need to become familiar with both seismic and ocean waves and how they are measured. Students will differentiate between the types of waves that cause earthquakes and tsunami. In addition, they will examine why these waves travel at different speeds. Students will also investigate how the measurement and detection of waves are used to understand and mitigate disasters. To compare the severity of specific disasters that have occurred during our lifetime, students will perform case studies on a number of the earthquakes and tsunami that have occurred around the world, examining the causes and effects of each.
In teaching the unit, I plan to incorporate a variety of teaching strategies to effectively engage my students. Students will be introduced to the content presented in this unit through a mixture of instructional modes. A textbook will be used to provide students with background information on each specific topic. Students will complete hands-on laboratory activities to investigate the concepts of seismic waves and tsunami. Videos and newspaper articles will be used to represent actual accounts of the phenomena students will be researching. Maps will be used to keep track of all of the disasters studied throughout the unit.
The conclusion of this unit will require each student to independently report on an earthquake or tsunami that has happened over the past four hundred years. They will construct a newspaper in which they compile pictures and articles pertaining to their specific incident. It is my expectation that students will uncover a greater awareness of the natural disasters that occur on Earth on a daily basis and will also gain a deeper understanding of these events and the effects they have on common people like themselves.