2009 Portland GSA Annual Meeting (18-21 October 2009)
Paper No. 21-6
Presentation Time: 9:30 AM-9:45 AM

INTEGRATING NATURAL HAZARDS RESEARCH AND EDUCATION AT THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE LEVEL—GETTING STUDENTS AND TEACHERS “OFF THE SIDEWALK” USING TREE-RING RESEARCH AND OTHER FIELD STUDIES

PRINGLE, P.T., Science Dept, Centralia College, 600 Centralia College Blvd, Centralia, WA 98531, ppringle@centralia.edu

Owing to a rich history of earthquakes, volcanism, floods, and landslides, the Pacific Northwest hosts many field sites for study of natural hazards. Field visits can greatly help students visualize and grasp the scale and dynamics of extensive flowage processes or effects of great earthquakes. Field inquiries involving tree-ring studies can be used to study the history of all these processes as well as climate. A good way to cover the basic learning objectives of a lab science is to add field studies as a component of the lab. Learning objectives and topics particularly well supported by field studies include: 1) improving quantitative, spatial, and temporal reasoning skills, 2) improving vocabulary and verbal fluency with context in the field, 3) researching the history of previous investigations, 4) understanding the process of science—observations, data collection and processing, field work techniques, measurements, analysis, 5) understanding the differences between monitoring hazardous processes in real time vs. assessing the scale and history of past hazardous processes (stratigraphic studies; dendrochronology, radiocarbon dating, etc), 6) effectively communicating about the science of natural hazards with write ups and discussions based on monitoring (prediction) and assessment (forecasting), 7) connecting the science with socio-economic aspects and education (the roles of citizens, scientists, and government; emergency preparedness vs. land-use planning; framing—i.e. playing down sensationalism and “doom and gloom”), 8) understanding the scaling of risk with respect to hazard (size, energy, and probability), loss, and societal vulnerability.

A major challenge of community college science teachers is that first-year students who enroll in science classes may be less able to compete with other students who have completed core English language and math requirements—Tutors and writing and math centers can be very helpful to these students. The broad relevance and significant consequences of natural hazards and their power and great energy can make for an exciting and transformative experience for the first-time observer in the field and give them more reason and desire to develop core skills. Thus it’s important to go “off the sidewalk” and out to the natural laboratory!

2009 Portland GSA Annual Meeting (18-21 October 2009)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 21
Opportunities and Challenges for Geologic Hazards Education in Cascadia I: In Memory of John Lahr
Oregon Convention Center: Portland Ballroom 252
8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Sunday, 18 October 2009

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 41, No. 7, p. 72

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