Crisis management with Google Earth
Montserrat eruption role-play (Part one)
A guaranteed excellent lesson which can't fail, so ideal for Ofsted!
Photograph used with kind permission of MVO
I have come across several versions of the underlying
concept behind this lesson, firstly at an INSET for Camden
in 1999 and subsequently in the Earthworks
3 text book
John Widdowson (published by John Murray, 2000). Earthworks, and the accompanying teacher's
resources, has been a personal source of inspiration to me for many years,
and this lesson is very much based on John Widdowson's work.
In collaboration with another colleague, I have developed some further activities and resources to enhance the role-playing element. Inevitably Google Earth offers an opportunity to extend the lesson into a very realistic learning experience, although the lesson is perfectly viable without it.
Special thanks to Sue Loughlin, Director of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, and Adam Goss, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell University for permission to use their photographs. Bill Innanen's Montserrat Index page provided the missing link for a detailed map of the north of the island for part two of the lesson, as well as a host of other superb resources. Thanks also to Hodder Murray for permission to use the map extract from Earthworks 3 teachers resources. Adam Lawson has completed a brilliant movie to use as a lesson starter. Dan Williams contributed the risk assessment and hazard planning element of the exercise.
This is a well-established lesson idea. Students react to the events
on Montserrat whilst in role as a crisis management team based at the Montserrat
Volcano Observatory. ICT
is not necessary, though the lesson will be enhanced if one or more PCs
are available. Google Earth and multiple computers provides the IC(T)ing
on the cake.
There will be a lot of noise and movement, so be prepared! A colleague and I have recently tested the lesson with two classes working simultaneously, with great success.
Students will be able to describe the sequence of events on the island of Montserrat that led to a large scale evacuation of the island by...
Responding to a chronological sequence of events.
Annotating a map with the key events.
They will gain an insight into the process of crisis decision making through...
a decision-making exercise
Preparing a hazard map.
It is assumed that students are working in pairs or groups of three. Within
the group there are roles for a geologist and a crisis planner and, optionally,
an information coordinator (aka the runner). These roles
The activities will span two
consecutive lessons. Ideally the following resources would be employed, although
to be honest, the role-play would still work well without any form of ICT.
Footage from an exemplar lesson. This gives some indication of the key tasks and the sense of movement and collaboration that takes place (hopefully) Panic cam video clips (11.5mb WMV file, requires Windows Media Player)
Laptop computer or PC which acts as a teleprinter.
Digital projector & PC Starter movie by Adam Lawson (web site)
Montserrat map on A3 sheet and A4 (Word doc)
Risk assessment and hazard planning sheet (Word doc)
Teacher's score sheet (Word doc)
Hazard map from MVO (Word doc)
Power Point introduction (PPT)
Power Point Montserrat eruption (PPT) (2.1mb)
Google Earth help sheets
Google Earth files:
MVO hazard map for plenary
Ideally there will be a PC and digital projector at the front of the class for the initial briefing and the final plenary session. A second PC or laptop situated in a corner of the room (or even outside the classroom in an empty room) acts as a teleprinter. If Google Earth is not available then there should at least be a wall map to locate the island.
Students enter the classroom and are directed to form teams of two or three. An introductory Power Point provides a simple 5Ws- type starter. A brief outline of the scenario is given to the students. Google Earth can be employed to locate Montserrat. Try the excellent Starter movie by Adam Lawson (web site)
Activity 1: RISK ASSESSMENT and HAZARD PLANNING
The "teleprinter" Power Point is set to run for approximately 22 minutes. During this time there is frantic activity as the runners collect the information. The geologist in the team annotates the A3 map with details of the volcanic events. Following each report from the teleprinter, the crisis manager makes an appropriate decision. The governor (aka teacher) assesses each group's performance in the risk assessment continually. This adds an element of competition between the groups, and provides an incentive to make the right decision under pressure.
Activity 2: PRODUCING A HAZARD MAP
Following the completion of the first activity, the Power Point is advanced manually to reveal the next task. The teams have approximately 8 - 10 minutes to prepare a map that divides Montserrat into three zones according to the instructions. This activity should see close co-operation between all three members of the team
Once time has elapsed for producing the hazard map the teams should display
their finished work. This can be compared with the real hazard map produced
by the MVO in September 1997. The real map is available as a Google
a Word doc or a live web
page. If time allows, the highest performing group
in the decision-making task and the hazard mapping, should be encouraged
to talk about their successful strategies.
Montserrat Volcano Observatory online
Photographs from Adam Goss Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell University
Bill Innanen's Montserrat Index page contains some brilliant resources, for example his animation of the MVO risk maps, and a quicktime VR panorama. Also on the site are the only detailed island maps available on the web. Absolute gold dust!
Montserrat information from Wikipedia
ZJB Radio Montserrat Live live streaming
Article on redevelopment of the island from DFID
BBC Scotland have an excellent online activity that makes a good follow-up activity. Some curious spelling errors though!
Geography Pages has ideas for teaching about Montserrat
CNN report on evacuation
Montserrat Government press release covering the events depicted
Montserrat Volcano Observatory chronology of eruptive events 1992 - 1997
Soufriere Hills report from Volcano World
Montserrat information CIA factbook
Article on sustainable development of the island
Map Action is a British charity that provides maps for disaster areas around the world. It's a good link for reminding students of the importance of maps when dealing with emergencies
Hodder Education (select Earthworks from the drop down box)
Predicting Volcanic Eruptions an interactive exercise from the USGS (thanks to Richard Treves)
I have received permission from the owners of all the copyrighted material used in these resources. Please DO NOT repost any of the material from this page. The Creative Commons License covering the rest of the site does not apply to the images on this page.