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SFUSD unveils new earthquake curriculum

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Within the next 30 years, there is a 72 percent chance an earthquake with a magnitude-6.7 will occur in the Bay Area.(Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner)

Earthquakes are part of the fabric of the landscape in the Bay Area, and that’s why we’re shaking things up with a new seventh grade science unit developed in partnership with the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management.

“Geoscience Processes and Earth’s Surface,” will explore many questions. How has the Earth’s surface changed over time? How does the type of ground under a building impact its safety during an earthquake? How can we use our knowledge of geoscience processes to mitigate the effects of earthquakes? How can we be prepared for major earthquakes ?

Within the next 30 years in the Bay Area, there is a 72 percent chance an earthquake with a magnitude-6.7 will occur.

A real-world problem

Students will work on group and individual projects in an attempt to solve  real world problems. They will have the opportunity to apply the conceptual understanding they gain through the class  and think like scientists and engineers.

In the final group  project, students will be asked to imagine they are building a new music venue in the San Francisco Bay Area, and present their recommendation for the best site to build it on.. This location should take into account soil and rock content, distance from plate boundaries, cost, and additional criteria of the group’s choice.

In the individual  final project, each student will write an Earthquake Mitigation Plan using what they learned in the unit. This document will describe additional ways to reduce the impact of earthquakes and/or use technology to monitor them. The Mitigation Plan project also integrates household emergency preparedness and earthquake safety education based on the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management’s emergency preparedness program.

Prepare with us

We’re committed not only to teaching important information to students, but to helping them understand why they’re learning about a particular topic. This curriculum is an excellent example of how we can make a scientific lesson apply directly to a student’s real-world experiences. And, it’s not just this science unit, all of our units are designed this way now that we have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards.

The Department of Emergency Management says they want to build a culture of preparedness. We want to be part of building that culture with our students but we can’t stop there. We adults need to be ready too.  

Do you have some earthquake  preparation to do? Check out www.sf72.org for lots of tips and inspiration.

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