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Stop Disasters

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.

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Planet Quest: Alien Safari

Posted by admin | Posted in Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 10-05-2011

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What it is: Planet Quest Alien Safari is an interactive exploration adventure that encourages students to click on “life zones” around the world to find bizarre and extreme organisms that live on Earth.  Students will also learn about what the extreme organisms reveal about finding life in space.  As students explore they will learn about organisms that can live without sunlight, those with the highest radiation dose, those that are the most acidic, those that live the furthest underground, those with the strangest habitat and those that are the hottest.  Students click on a life zone on the 3D Earth to begin a video introduction to the organism.

How to integrate Planet Quest: Alien Safari into the classroom: Planet Quest Alien Safari is going to be a popular one with your boys.  My students got a kick out of “discovering” new organisms.  Use Alien Safari when discussing different life forms, classifying organisms or studying space.  My students wanted to do more than just explore the organisms, they wanted to write stories about them.  Students wrote creative stories imagining what kind of super hero the organism would be, or making them into super villains (As I said, the boys have fun with this one!).

Ask students to make predictions about the organisms based on where they are found, what does their geographic location tell us about the organism?

Tips: The music on this site gets a little OLD (at least for me, the kids may disagree) I had the kids use headphones when they were accessing this site independently.  If you are using it with the whole class and an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer, you can turn the music off in the bottom right corner.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  Planet Quest: Alien Safari in your classroom!

Comments (1)

This is a great find and will be a useful one in the classroom for me. Thanks for sharing.

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