Natural disasters workshop integrating hands-on activities, internet-based data, and GIS


The many unanswered questions about natural hazards and the difficulty to predict them make them a most suitable topic for inquiry-based classroom activities. The abundant information about and frequent occurrence of natural disasters supports even further the learning of key earth science concepts in a way that it is intellectually challenging and personally meaningful. To promote this approach to education, the authors offered a week-long "Mapping Natural Disasters" workshop to 30 K-12 teachers during the summer of 2001. The workshop modeled the effective integration of hands-on activities, internet-based data, and use of geographic information system (GIS) software, a powerful analytical tool that displays the spatial distribution of data. Teachers deepened their understanding of current earth science concepts through models and simulations, and then applied this understanding as they analyzed data downloaded from the internet and mapped with the GIS software. In addition, the workshop modeled techniques for promoting student inquiry and reflective professional practice among teachers that may be applied to other curriculum units.


Geography, Geology, and Planning
Reading, Foundations, and Technology

Document Type




Disaster, Earth science, GIS, Inquiry, Mapping, Middle-school, Natural hazards

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Geoscience Education