Fermilab LInC Online

History Survivor



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 will join in examining how they would react given a sudden impending cataclysmic event. Thirty-two students will share common English, world history, and science teachers. Teachers and students create an interdisciplinary study during this ten week unit. Conversations begun in one class continue in the next one. English class will direct 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 will examine past cataclysmic events and highlight how people survived in those times; develop contact with experts in survival techniques; examine theories about mass extinction as well as speculate about future cataclysmic events and related survival strategies. Students create a means of surviving the cataclysmic event through a plan of self-government. Science instruction will explore the Solar System; create an understanding of habitats; certify students in CPR and/or First Aid Certification; expose students to emergency services such as ambulance and police ride-along programs; and explore the Internet for resources about survival.

The Question:

Students watch a film of their choice, such as "Deep Impact". Occasionally at poignant moments in the film it is stopped to check for student engagement. The students are asked to point out decision- making processes.Questions are asked, such as "Could this ever happen?" "What if it did?" "Has it ever happened before in history?" "Could humanity survive a disaster like this?" Students do a quick write in their on-line journals after viewing the film. Students make twice weekly entries in their on-line journals as they journey through this project experience. Students go to a resource page on cataclysmic events where the students make contact with experts on catastrophic survival. Students are given a quick lesson on Internet safety and testing the validity of websites. Students investigate what attitudes, strategies, and decision making process are effectively used in a chaotic environment. By making contact with experts they can e-mail resource persons, learn about the validity of URLs, and learn how to safely interact with people on the Internet.

Middle/In Progress

Finding the Solution: Students are assigned an investigation of past cataclysms that have changed various societies. They search the web to collect URLs that deal with any number of historical cataclysms. Students have the option of selecting a type of cataclysm that could occur in the present day such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, world war, plagues, or prolonged lethal drought. A further option is selecting a cataclysm that has not occurred in modern times, such as a nuclear war, comet collision, global warming, parousia, germ warfare. Students may suggest other cataclysms. Students then write speculative histories that deal specifically with decision processes used to survive. Next students contact experts on the various cataclysms of the past, current catastrophic occurrences, and think tanks that deal with preparation for possible future disasters. From these contacts the students decide what interests them the most, what they think is the most likely occurring event to prepared for, and that they would like to share with others. Students prepare a speculative history of a future cataclysm and the steps they would take to deal with it including a form of self-government. These histories, presented in a wide variety of formats, are put into an instructional website. Students construct a rubric for the presentation and give the rubric to the class and community on their chosen catastrophe. A leading question for the rubric is "What needs to be included in a presentation to communicate information effectively and capture the attention of the audience?." Following on the heels of the discussion of effective presentation, the students construct a storyboard for their presentation using a choice of programs such as PowerPoint or Inspiration. The storyboards are uploaded to the class website for evaluation by all the students. Comments and critiques of the storyboards are posted on the class message board in the website. Students have four weeks to construct their presentations after they have come to a consensus on the storyboard's effectiveness. Once the presentations are constructed they are again evaluated by fellow students according to the student constructed rubric.


The 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. A final assessment requires teams to face a new crisis situation where their previous learning experiences and expertise will be called upon.

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 Science Foundation.

Author(s): Scott Hopgood, scotthopgood@hotmail.com
School: Vallejo High School, Vallejo, Ca
Created: April 4, 2001 - Updated: December 28, 2002
URL: http://www-ed.fnal.gov/lincon/w01/projects/survivor/historyscenario.html