# The Science of Natural Disasters

## CONTENTS OF CURRICULUM UNIT 07.04.10

- Introduction
- Purpose
- Goals and Objectives
- Key Concepts
- Students
- Rationale
- Teaching Strategies
- Classroom Activities - Lesson Plans
- Lesson Number 3 - Modeling Earthquake Magnitude and Population Growth using Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
- Resources
- Appendix: Implementing National, State and District Standards

### Unit Guide

## Modeling Natural Disasters with Mathematical Functions

Your feedback is important to us!

After viewing our curriculum units, please take a few minutes to help us understand how the units, which were created by public school teachers, may be useful to others.

## Teaching Strategies

Teaching mathematics requires both the science of mathematics and the art of relating the content to the students. In executing this unit, the classroom environment will be regularly modified to enhance student learning and socialization. Topics will be presented, practiced, and assessed in multiple modalities, but most commonly via the most salient modality. Presentations of fundamental science concepts will be used to interest students with each lesson's question(s). Where possible, demonstrations and activities using manipulatives and student-centered activities will be used. Involving all students in demonstration or activity incorporates the equity principle of instruction. The use technology is incorporated by the use of the graphing calculator, both by students in investigation, and by the teacher in presentation.

The main focus of the content is on two of the four content standards: number and operations, algebra, and some measurement as an introduction to units. The NCTM process standards emphasized include the following: problem solving through the use of models to answer problems to real or possible scenarios, communication through small group and whole-class discourse and verbalization of mathematics, connection through using natural disasters as a context in which to show the application of mathematics to nature, and representation through the requirement that all mathematical models and their use must be shown in at least two different ways (Executive Summary: Principles and Standards for School Mathematics).

For each type of natural disaster, a case study will be presented to the class either as an introduction, or in the context of solving problems. Hopefully, each case study will be an event that they have heard of. Data known about the case study could be used to theorize about different possible scenarios. The unit may be motivated by an open ended writing assignment about each student's most significant experience with a natural disaster or weather.

The following details which case study of each type of natural disaster will be used in either introducing the disaster, presenting the characteristics of the disaster, or student research of the type of disaster. Where possible, the most deadly disasters have been chosen. The tsunami case study will be of the Moro Gulf in the Phillipines in 1976, which killed 8000 people. The volcano case study with be of the Mt. Pelee in Martinique in 1902, which killed 30000 people. Mt. St. Helens in 1980 is an alternative, since it was much more recent. The earthquake case study will be of Tanshan, Beijing and Tianjin in China in 1976, which killed 242000 people. The tornado case study will be of Manikganj, Dhaka and Tangail districts of Bangladesh in 1989, which killed 800 people (Kovach & McGuire, 2003). Population growth could be exemplified by a case study of Africa, whose growth rate is 2.4% (Abbott, 2004). Another interesting case study for a discussion on population is Easter Island, although it was population decrease that was the situation.