(Part of the PAESTA In The News - Current Events in Earth and Space Science Series. This series compiles current resources and background materials for recent scientific events in the news. Questions are provided with each topic, written across Bloom's Taxonomic Scale, and can be used for classroom discussion and/or as a writing prompt at the beginning/middle/end of an instructional unit.)
Natural Disasters and Hazards
There are websites and curricular materials to assist teachers with classroom instruction relating to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Although it is important for students to be familiar with the current disaster, it is just as important for students to examine the historic occurrence and context of past oil spills from across the globe. Fortunately, a Google Earth file exists that contains location information and details of oil spills. We have modified this file to assist teachers in engaging students to explore the spatial and temporal distribution of global oil spill disasters.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/National Ocean Service has an Office of Response and Restoration that publishes a series of Environmental Sensitivity Index Maps (ESI Maps). [See More Information About ESI Maps]
Using real-time or near-real-time data in the classroom can form the basis for exciting guided inquiry lessons that build necessary scientific thinking skills. Choosing data from recent newsworthy events also motivates students to learn because they feel personally connected to the observations surrounding such events.