Ted's teaching tips;The Big Picture

15th May 1998 at 01:00
See page 18

Natural disasters bring out the best in people: there is rarely any panic, everyone helps out, looting is less frequent than is thought. Floods are a good example of a misfortune that can hit a community suddenly.


How and where do floods occur? Causes include excessive rainfall (Lynmouth disaster in 1952, "flash floods" in hilly regions); storms at sea (high tide and strong winds); ice and snow melting (for example, River Danube); volcanic eruptions creating huge waves (Krakatoa eruption in Indonesia in 1883 produced tidal wave 35 metres high which caused 36,000 deaths). How can floods be prevented? (Aswan Dam, sea and river defences) Simulation

Split the class into groups of four for a simulation. Each group must imagine a flood occurs and produce an action plan. How will they organise: food? medical care? transport? shelter and housing? power supplies? emer-gency services? Invite someone from local emergency services to come and say what they do, or see if pupils could act as volunteers. Done properly, a superb citizenshipPSE activity.


"Insurance" is a nice topic for exploring "probability" and "risk". What are the annual odds of a 20 year (p = 0.05), 100 year (0.01) or 1,000 year (0.001) flood? If the costs of such floods in a village were pound;20,000, pound;100,000 and pound;1,000,000 respectively, roughly how would (a)a non-profit and (b) a profit-making insurance scheme work out for1,000 villagers?

Ted Wragg is professor of education at Exeter University

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