Catastrophe versus Accident -- You Decide
Explain to students that there is a difference between an accident
(e.g., two cars crashing together)
and a catastrophe (e.g., a major earthquake). The
American Red Cross defines a catastrophe as any hazardous and extreme event that
involves more than 100 people or causes more than one million dollars' worth of
damage to property or the environment. Explain to students that catastrophes can be caused by both humans and nature.
Talk about the kinds of natural disasters that can occur, and the types of disasters humans can cause.
WHAT YOU NEED
WHAT TO DO
- Bulletin board divided down the middle by a thin line of colored
paper or tape.
- A label entitled "Accidents" for one side of the board and a label
entitled "Catastrophes" for the other side
- For the period of a month, ask students to bring to class newspaper or magazine
clippings about hazardous and extreme events.
- Have students read their clippings carefully to categorize them as accidents
or catastrophes, using the "more than 100 people or more than $1 million"
rule, and then post the clippings on the bulletin board under "Accidents"
- At the end of the month, analyze the bulletin board to discuss these
- Were there more accidents or more catastrophes?
- What was the most frequent type of accident?
- What was the most frequent type of catastrophe?
- Were there more catastrophes caused by extreme events in nature
or more caused by human activities?
- Which catastrophe involved the most people?
- Which catastrophe cost the most in damage to property or the
- What accidents were most frequent in your city or town?
- What catastrophes were most frequent in your city or town?
- Have students write an opinion essay of at least one paragraph to answer
this question: "Where you live, which has most control over the environment, nature
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