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Advice for teachers -

Teaching and learning activities

Unit 1 - Hazards and disasters

Unit 1 - Area of Study 1: Characteristics of hazards

Outcome 1

On completion of this unit the student should be able to analyse the nature of hazards and the impacts of hazard events at a range of scales.

Examples of learning activities

  • View or read news reports about a recent hazard(s) affecting an Australian or overseas location. Discuss the causes of the hazard, the impacts on people and environments, and suggest factors that affected the scale and nature of the impacts.
  • Develop a glossary of key terms relating to the study of hazards and disasters.
  • Examine a series of photographs and/or news articles about a range of hazards occurring in Australia and/or overseas. Classify each according to whether it is primarily geological, hydro-meteorological, biological or technological in nature.
  • Interpret a range of geographic data such as satellite images, maps, ground photographs and block diagrams to describe and explain the global distribution, natural processes and geographical patterns of a selected type of hazard. Examples of different types of hazards are: bushfires, floods, sea level rise, air pollution, toxic waste disposal and invasion of non-indigenous species.
  • Identify the different types of geospatial technologies (GNSS, remotely sensed imagery and GIS) and how each one is used to collect data and map natural hazards.
  • Use online geospatial tools such as the Pacific Disaster Centre’s disaster alert to add various layers to a map, and analyse the cause and impact of a selected natural hazard at a global, regional or national scale.
  • Annotate a diagram of the enhanced greenhouse effect to show how the interconnections between human activities and natural processes contribute to climate change. Explain how climate change contributes to the impacts of either a biological, technological or hydro-meteorological hazard.
  • Example icon for advice for teachers
    In small groups, investigate a range of case studies illustrating a selected type of hazard or hazard event and share findings with the class in a multimedia presentation. The case studies should come from a range of locations both in Australia and overseas.
  • Analyse the economic, social, political, environmental and cultural factors that affect the risk levels for people and environments for a selected type of hazard, based on information collected during class investigations of a range of case studies. Use online geospatial tools to determine the vulnerability and level of risk for these people and environments.
  • Write a response to the following statement, with reference to at least two specific locations: ‘There is a strong spatial association between places likely to be severely affected by hazards and low levels of economic development.’ To what extent do you agree?
  • Investigate how state and federal government agencies use geospatial technologies to identify and assess the impacts of bushfires in Victoria. In this investigation, consider how drones were used to collect data during a recent bushfire event and how governments used this data to create GIS maps to communicate ongoing impacts during the hazard event.
Example icon for advice for teachers

Detailed example

Multimedia presentation about a hazard

The purpose of this activity is for students to:

  • explore the characteristics of a hazard event/disaster and its impacts
  • develop skills in multimedia presentation
  • work collaboratively in a group.

This activity could be developed as an assessment task.

Allocate each group of students a specific hazard event or disaster to investigate: for example, different examples of floods that have occurred in Australia and overseas during the last decade.

Part A – Information gathering

Provide each group with a set of guided questions or note-taking chart to be completed in a collaborative document that responds to questions such as:

  • Describe the location (map) of the hazard event.
  • Describe the date, timing and duration.
  • What were the physical processes that caused the hazard event? Include labelled diagrams.
  • What role did human factors play in compounding the effects of the hazard event?
  • To what extent did climate change play a role in causing or exacerbating the effects of this hazard event?
  • What factors affected the risk level of this hazard event for people and environments? Consider economic, social, political, environmental and cultural factors. Use online geospatial tools such as the Pacific Disaster Centre’s disaster alert to create a GIS map that includes these factors as differing layers. Include this map in the presentation.
  • What is the history of this type of hazard event at the location?
  • What were the impacts on people? Consider short-term and long-term impacts.
  • What were the impacts on the natural and built environment? Consider short-term and long- term impacts.
  • Classify the impacts on people and environments (environmental, economic, social and cultural).
  • Were there any positive impacts in the long term to result from the hazard event?

Suggested sources: Online databases available on the free web and via subscription, such as EBSCO and the United States Geological Survey.

Part B – Presentation of findings

Give students specific instructions regarding the presentation of their findings using multimedia. For example, groups could present their findings using online tools such as Google Maps and/or Google Earth creation tools or ArcGIS StoryMaps. Another option could be a slideshow that includes a map, annotated photographs, diagrams and YouTube clips.

This activity could lead to a discussion of how and why the impacts of hazard events of the same type vary at different locations. It could assist students to understand the spatial association between level of risk and particular economic, social, political, environmental and cultural factors, and lead to a discussion about issues and challenges in responding to hazard events.

Unit 1 - Area of Study 2: Response to hazards and disasters

Outcome 2

On completion of this unit the student should be able to analyse and evaluate the nature, purpose and effectiveness of a range of responses to selected hazards and disasters.

Examples of learning activities

  • Respond to a research question that guides an investigation of a hazard or hazard event at an area where fieldwork can be conducted. The question should provide the opportunity to collect data from secondary and primary sources.
  • Collect data using fieldwork techniques such as field sketching, taking georeferenced ground photographs, measuring, drawing a cross-section, conducting an interview with an expert. All primary data collected in the field should include a spatial location via GNSS so that this data can be mapped back in class.
  • Example icon for advice for teachers
    Process and present data collected about a hazard event at a local scale in a visual data booklet, using appropriate techniques and geographic conventions.
  • View an audiovisual program(s), YouTube clip(s) or news report(s) that discuss responses to a recent hazard event or disaster in Australia or overseas. As a class, classify the responses according to the following categories: mitigation, prediction, recovery and reconstruction. Discuss the difference between responses from government and non-government organisations, and at different scales.
  • Investigate a national response to a hazard event or disaster using a range of sources. Use a summary chart to evaluate the success of the response according to criteria such as: risk assessment, mitigation, recovery and reconstruction.
  • Identify a key issue that arises from responses to a selected hazard: for example, ‘How can bushfire risk in Victoria be minimised?’ Write a response that outlines three major challenges associated with the issue. These challenges could include (among others): climate change, economic cost, people’s perception of risk.
  • Participate in a simulation in which students determine the types of geospatial data (layers) needed in a local area to map future bushfire risk. Layers could include bushfire severity, elevation, imagery, community assets, infrastructure and population density. Justify why these layers would be needed by a government agency. Then, research current responses for the local area. This approach could also be used for other hazards.
  • Investigate how geospatial technologies, including drones, have been used to respond to case study hazard events in both Australia and on a global scale. Evaluate the effectiveness of these technologies in developing prevention and mitigation measures for the selected hazard event.
Example icon for advice for teachers

Detailed example

Presentation of processed data and information

A required section in the fieldwork report is the presentation of processed data and information. The purpose of this activity is to guide students through this part of the report in Unit 1. In order to scaffold the task for students, teachers could provide them with the specific requirements for data to be included and in what format. The use of a separate visual data book is not a mandated format for the fieldwork report; however, it may be an effective way of managing this part of the report when it is introduced in Unit 1. Students could then be given the option of integrating the use of processed data in the written analysis when writing a fieldwork report in Unit 2.

Sample student instructions

Prepare a visual data book that will form part of your fieldwork report.

Consider organising your data under headings such as: location, impacts on people, impacts on environments, hazard prevention, risk assessment.

You should include the following:

  • a location map of the area(s) visited
  • a map(s) showing the location of sites where data was collected, including photographs. This map should be created using GIS software (Google My Maps or ArcGIS).
  • an annotated field sketch
  • a range of annotated photographs
  • a table showing the results of observations/water quality tests/summary of key information from an interview
  • results of data collection for analysis using graphing software (Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets) and/or map creation using GIS software (Google My Maps or ArcGIS)
  • an annotated cross-section showing relevant data collected in the field.

Number all visual data and use titles for easy reference in the written report: for example, Figure 1 Field sketch of retarding basin.

Additional advice

Give students written instructions regarding the appropriate conventions for presenting graphs, maps, tables, cross-sections, field sketches, annotated photographs and other forms of geographic data.

Give students class time to process and present data.

Provide guidance in choosing the techniques most appropriate for conveying the meaning in the data.