Impending Doom. . . . How do we make decisions? Why do we react in a certain way in a given situation? What really influences how we behave in a crisis situation? Does experience with emergency situations and/or knowledge of emergency medical techniques influence one's reaction in a catastrophe? Students and teachers join in examining how they react given a sudden impending cataclysmic event. Thirty-two students share common English, world history, and science teachers. Teachers and students create an interdisciplinary study during this ten week unit. Conversations in one class are encouraged to continue in the next one. English class directs attention to how people relate to transitions in life and what causes them to react in certain predictable ways to emergency situations. World history curricula examines past cataclysmic events and highlight how people survived in those times; develops contact with experts in survival techniques; examines theories about mass extinction as well as speculating about future cataclysmic events and related survival strategies. Science instruction explores the Solar System; certifies students in CPR and/or First Aid; exposes students to emergency services such as ambulance and police ride-along programs; and explores the Internet for resources about survival.
Science star date one finds the sophomore class meandering across campus (after reading the note on the classroom door to go to the Library Computer Lab). These adventurers are used to doing some unusual activities to become immersed in a new topic strand. As the students jostle for their preferred computer cubicle, the Mission Commander welcomes the "Survivors" to space. "The Last Frontier." Students are instructed to don their headsets (earphones connected to the CPU sound port) and tune in (Go to the URL: http://deepspace.jpl.nasa.gov/dsn/). These space cadets find an instructional encounter where they pass the retinal scan by pressing their eye to the monitor and sign-in with the thumbprint at the portal to space. Entry through the portal brings the space cadets to a pre-transport briefing where they are given the mission objectives for this unit as well as some safety rules (rules of group behavior, participation, and self-government). Launch brings the space cadets into contact with a web quest activity where they review the solar system in detail. The stage is set for the introduction of asteroids, comets, meteoroids, aged space stations, and other space junk! The instances of junk from space hitting the earth are presented as a series of hotlinks to NASA Websites. Students record URLs of interest to them in their electronic journal that may be of value in later reference in their quest to survive encounters of the cataclysmic kind! The Mission Commander provides a rubric for space cadets to evaluate the validity and reliability of their recorded URLs. Several star dates into the future, students continue recording their prior knowledge (in their on-line journals) of the solar system, asteroids, and what items and skills are necessary for survival and creation of a survival habitat. At the end of the initial web quest, students are assigned a mission should they choose to pass this class! This quest opens with students making the decision to work alone, in pairs, or in a triad. Students develop a plan to survive an impending cataclysmic event by using their developed survival instincts. The Mission Commander exclaims: "no more written instructions until your final models are produced along with PowerPoint Presentation Explanations!" The students groan, grumble, and get used-to-it as they have learned the survivor's creed "You get what you get, and you don't pitch a fit!" After all, further consultations with the Mission Commander are still possible through e-mail.
Students are viewing a video about the Biosphere Project in Arizona. Periodically, the students stop-the-video to reflect and question the reason for combining a series of biomes within one system. Students continue their research about synthetic environments and continue to look for special survival aspects unique to these surroundings. The Mission Commander asks: "How can a synthetic environment be successfully created?" One student offers to share an article from Columbia University. The overwhelming amount of information available on biomes forces the students to form groups with similar interests. Students choose their biome of interest and begin to investigate and create a representative diorama. Part of the student biome team creates a PowerPoint presentation explaining the advantages of that biome's features and possible advantages in an impending cataclysmic event while the other part builds the scale model diorama. At the end of two weeks, parents come to an evening presentation of student survival habitats where the only audio is from the PowerPoint Presentation. Acquiring medical survival skills is another important quest for the space cadets. Everyone begins this section with certification in First Aid and CPR presented during one week of class periods. Ride-along opportunities with emergency services such as ambulance, fire, and police agencies take place on two different days. These experiences expose students to emergency situations and the know-how of these related services. Students keep a log of their experiences that they incorporate into their on-line recordings. More credit points are given for those completing theFirst Aid and CPR certification. Students create their own survival expertise web site in the final web quest activity. They share their knowledge in this project loosely categorized as "Survival A to Z in the eyes of a sophomore." This project assesses their practical knowledge of resources, skills, and decision-making processes related to sudden crisis.
A presentation, Crash & Burn, Learn & Live Demonstration, forms the core of the last two weeks in all three classrooms. Students create a diorama, PowerPoint presentation, and/or simulation game to: embody their knowledge of survival, show why government must find ways to assimilate those with different values and beliefs, and point-out exemplary decision-making processes in their model. In a final assessment, teams face a new crisis situation where their previous learning experiences and expertise is called upon. Cumulative student on-line journals are examined for evidence of growth in their decision-making processes as well as to find out how they view what is important in a crisis situation.
Created for the Fermilab
LInC program sponsored by Fermi National
Accelerator Laboratory Education Office
and Friends of Fermilab, and
funded by United States Department of Energy,
Illinois State Board of Education,
North Central Regional Technology in Education
Consortium which is operated by North Central
Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), and the National
Author(s): David Tillay (email@example.com)
School: Vallejo High, Vallejo, CA
Created: March 21, 2001 - Updated: December 28, 2002