2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 4:00 PM


MCDARIS, John R., Science Education Research Center, Carleton College, 1 North College St, Northfield, MN 55057, MACDONALD, Heather, Department of Geology, College of William and Mary, PO Box 8795, Williamsburg, VA 23187 and MANDUCA, Cathryn, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, 1 North College St, Northfield, MN 55057, jmcdaris@carleton.edu

The December 26, 2004, tsunami devastated countries around the Indian Ocean and attracted worldwide attention. While an international tragedy, the event provided an important teachable moment for the geosciences. To support faculty, teachers, and those engaged in public outreach, the On the Cutting Edge faculty development program developed a collection of visualizations of this and other tsunamis (http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/visualization/collections/tsunami.html). This site also served as a clearinghouse for other materials related to tsunamis and teaching. Over 77,000 visitors took advantage of the visualizations and over 5,000 visited the page of other materials in the three months following the tsunami, indicating broad popular use and interest.

Rapidly responding to the situation provided an opportunity to learn more about how faculty incorporate geologic events into their classes. A survey of the community was conducted as a collaboration between On the Cutting Edge and the Starting Point: Teaching Introductory Geoscience project (http://serc.carleton.edu/introgeo/tsunami_survey.html). Results (from 106 responses) show that many geoscience instructors devoted days of lecture to tsunamis and developed activities based on the event or the aftermath and cleanup. Some were called upon to give presentations at staff meetings to help their colleagues understand what was happening. Others spoke to campus assemblies or in public forums to provide information to the wider community. For example, one respondent developed a semester-long project investigating the social, economic and geologic impacts of the tsunami for his introductory-level environmental geology course, while another respondent described the outreach a colleague conducted by participating in five radio and three television interviews. The data show a diverse response involving a wide range of approaches.