A classroom role-play project based on a real-life natural disaster gives pupils the chance to learn about earth sciences in a relevant and fascinating way.
The volcano began erupting on the island of Montserrat in 1995 and, in June 1997, claimed the lives of 19 people and led to two-thirds of the population fleeing the island.
The events building up to this real-life dramatic event are now being used as the basis for a role-playing project that’s available to East Midlands schools. Run by two people from the British Geological Survey – Lee Jones and Helen Taylor – the project takes about an hour, with pupils playing the parts of the scientists who collect the data, the government which has to make the key decisions, and the inhabitants of the island.
The scientific data and information that comes over the hour is a simplified version of the real events of 1997 and can be tailored to different age groups. As the project unfurls, the tension mounts and decisions have to be made.
In all, it makes for a highly dramatic and valuable demonstration of the vital role that science and scientists have.
“This project had a life-changing impact on some of the pupils. The parents I spoke to talked about how their children now aspire to become involved in earth sciences. Some parents reported how their children had become avid watchers of news items about earthquake and volcano activity and some have even changed their GCSE options as a result!” Clive Beckwith, Carlton-le-Willows School, Nottingham