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Lesson Ideas

Online Simulator to Teach Students about Natural Disasters

Here’s a great idea for a distance learning/online lesson about natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires. It’s based on an educational online simulation game developed by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The game called Stop Disasters! has multiple options and resources to choose from but here are student instructions for a sample lesson about flood risk.

Activity 1: Play a flooding simulation game (25 mins)

Go to the game’s launch page:

Select the Play button, then select the Eastern/Central Europe flood game (third option), and choose the easy level.

This is a simulation game where you need to try and reduce the damage of an imminent flood by building housing, hospitals and schools in areas with smaller risk. Think about the impact of flooding and sea level rise for communities, and how we can reduce this impact. In the end, there will be a simulated flood over the your town. You will receive a report on the cost of the damage of the flood and whether or not you passed or failed the mission. Take note of the cost from the report and relay it to the class. Think about what did and didn’t help reduce the damage of the flood.

Activity 2: Read an article and complete the questions (20 mins)

Open/download and read the scientific article:

Should we let the ocean in or not?

This scientific article discusses what would happen to species and biodiversity if areas of land were flooded, and the pros and cons associated with allowing flooding to occur.

After reading the text, complete the ‘check your understanding’ questions at the end and submit your answers.

Activity 3: Watch and discuss a video about nature-based solutions (15 mins)

Watch this educational video:

It explains how climate change is leading to sea-level rise and flooding and discusses how humans can adapt to reduce this impact. It describes how we can use hard infrastructure, but then introduces another approach – nature-based solutions. The video highlights the benefits of nature-based solutions (coral reefs, mangroves, salt marshes, etc) as well as the impact on communities when they are damaged or removed. 

Think back to the flood risk game and discuss how nature-based solutions could help prevent damage from the flood further, e.g. planting more trees to stabilise land or allowing certain areas of land to flood to relieve stress on built-up areas. 

Optional homework

Try playing the Stop Disaster game again, this time applying nature-based solutions where possible. What is the result?…

There are multiple lessons about natural disasters and resource management that can be built around this game. For the reading extension, you can use these articles about wildfire or hurricane risk.

Thanks to marine biologist Jemima Dimbleby for developing this sample lesson.

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