STEM Instructional Materials

How can we protect and prepare our community from a nearby volcanic eruption?

Volcanic eruptions can produce large amounts of debris in the form of sediment. Volcanic sediment is a serious hazard that can flood river valleys, bury homes and wash out bridges and roads. In the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, many billions of cubic meters of sediment flowed down from the mountain through the surrounding river valleys, which caused major flooding and damage to the homes of people living downstream.

Through various activities, scientific inquiry and exploration, students become acquainted with the size and scale of volcanic sediment as a long-term hazard for communities that live downstream of volcanoes. In this unit students design their own community and roleplay as city council members. Students collaborate with characters who model real-world career professionals (such as engineers, geologists and emergency managers) who help them design their own solutions to the problem of volcanic sediment. Through science, teamwork, and communication, students generate and compare multiple solutions to help their community be prepared for the hazards and challenges from volcanic sediment. At the end of the storyline, students create recommendations and design plans to share with other communities facing similar challenges.

Earth Space Science Kit

Unit Overview

Grades: 4

Supports: Soils, Rocks, and Landforms FOSS kit