170 Teaching Climate and Hazard Resiliency in a Junior High using Local Data and Emergency Management

Monday, 23 January 2017
4E (Washington State Convention Center )
Danny E. Mattox, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; and M. Mattox, A. D. Melvin, M. A. Shafer, R. E. Riley, L. Kos, A. Petersen, and G. Longan

Each year, Oklahoma experiences a multitude of weather hazards, from tornadoes and extreme heat to ice, drought, and flooding. The public is keenly aware of the threats to life and property as a result of extreme weather events, but most do not know what steps should be taken to mitigate the damages. Through a partnership with weather, climate, emergency management, and educational organizations, 175 eighth graders at Will Rogers Middle School in Miami, OK experienced an interactive, hands-on 5E science lesson covering weather hazards specific to their community and how to lessen their impacts. The lesson was written specifically for this project and was aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and the Oklahoma Academic Standards for Science. It focused on weather/climate data analysis, identifying hazards, and severe weather mitigation. After participating in the lesson, all 175 students received a "go bag" containing survival essentials prepared by the city's emergency manager and a weather radio to take home. Background Adaptation International (AI) and the Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP) identified critical weather thresholds in several communities in the SE US and held public forums to explain the thresholds and discuss how communities can better prepare for future extreme weather events. SCIPP and AI partnered with the City of Miami Emergency Management, the Oklahoma Climatological Survey (OCS), and the K-20 Center at the University of Oklahoma (OU) to develop a weather hazards lesson to teach 8th graders in Miami in hopes that the students would share the message with adults and others in their community.  Lesson The K-20 Center is an educational research organization on the campus of OU. A curriculum designer at the K-20 Center with a background in earth science education and an OCS climatologist used data provided by the Oklahoma Mesonet, AI, and SCIPP to write a lesson for the students in Miami. The 5E lesson model (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate) was developed by the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study in the late 1980's and is now ubiquitous in the realm of K-12 science education. Research has shown the 5E model to be an effective way to meaningfully teach science (Bybee, 2009). Due to its effectiveness, the 5E model was selected as the format for this project's lesson. The curriculum designer, climatologist, and city EM taught the lesson to the 8th grade. A few components of the lesson include: students choosing which hazard they thought had the most impact on their community, then constructing an argument why the hazard they selected was the most detrimental; investigating the concept of a critical threshold through a lab where they flooded a farm diorama and melted a structure with heat; taking on the role of an emergency manager preparing for a major flooding event; and writing a letter to city council with their ideas about hazard mitigation in Miami based on what they learned. Some of the letters were actually shared with city council members. Results A 10 question pre-test and post-test were administered to the students. Overall, there was a 30% increase in test scores, with each question showing knowledge gains. Many of the student letters to city council were very insightful and showed they were engaged and found value in what they were learning. A Joplin TV station sent a reporter to the school, resulting in news coverage of the project.  Additionally, an article was written in the local paper about the lesson and project. The teachers, school administration, and the city EM would like this lesson to be taught again during the next school year.  
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