What it is: Stop Disasters is a collection of disaster simulation games created by the ISDR (International Strategy for Disaster Reduction). As students play the games, they learn about natural disasters and actions that people can take to help protect themselves and others. The student’s job is to plan and construct a safer environment for their population. Students must assess the disaster risk and try to limit damage when natural disasters strike. Some advice that students are given within the game will be good and some of it will be bad, it is up to them to discern which is which. Students can choose from 5 different scenarios, Tsunami, Earthquake, Hurricane, Wild Fire, and Flood. Each scenario has 3 levels: easy, medium, and hard. When students enter the simulation, they are greeted by a local who briefs them on the situation. Students are given a budget and time limit to complete the necessary precautions. After 20 min., the natural disaster occurs and tests their solutions. Students develop the land and learn about their choices each step of the way. During the game students can keep track of their budget, the population they are working to keep safe, a map and risk management map, and their remaining time. The game is very engaging, it reminds me of the SIM City games that I played as a kid. This game will put those critical thinking muscles to the test!
How to integrate Stop Disasters into the classroom: Stop Disasters is an excellent game for teaching students about natural disasters through an engaging simulated environment. It is up to each student to create solutions for their environment before the natural disaster occurs. Students get immediate feedback during each development period and get to test their work when the natural disaster strikes. This game is best played in a computer lab setting where each student has the opportunity to interact with the simulation individually. A simulation game takes about 20-30 minutes to complete so make sure that your students have ample time to complete the game. After students complete the simulation, bring them back together as a class and discuss choices that were made, why those choices were made, and what outcomes students observed. Students can also write a reflection piece on what they might do differently next time. Stop Disasters has quite a bit of reading embedded in game play, it is best for 4th-5th grade students and older. If you are teaching younger students who won’t be able to read the site independently (or you don’t have access to a computer lab) the simulation can be run as a whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.
I found Stop Disasters while working on a unit in our Treasures curriculum that had the theme of natural disasters. As an extension activity, students can create public service announcements about safety using a tool like Animoto or create safety posters for their population.
Tips: Students can learn more about the ISDR on this site, when we are talking disasters with kids, it is always nice to have a place where they can learn about organizations that are working to help keep them safe. This makes the topic less stressful and overwhelming for students.
Please leave a comment and share how you are using Stop Disasters in your classroom.