Mapping Natural Disasters
By Kirstin Bittel and Sally Rusk

Time: 1 class period
Preparation Time: 5 minutes copies maps
15 minutes cutting overhead transparencies
15 minutes colleting current natural disasters
Materials: 1 overhead transparency per group
1 coordinate graph per group
1 data sheet per group (from internet)
World Map overhead

Students are introduced to Cartesian coordinates and map natural disasters. Specifically they map natural disasters in the region surrounding their country.

Students will be able to:-
1. Use Cartesian coordinates to plot current natural disasters
2. Relate location of natural disasters to their specific major project countries

Math Strand
Geometry: Specify locations and describe spatial relationships using coordinate geometry and other representational systems.

Teacher Background

Resource Websites

http://neic.usgs.gov/neis/bulletin/ (earthquakes)



As students enter the room, have the following question on the board for them to answer.
“ Everyday there are earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, droughts, and more. Where do you think these events occur?” Take a few minutes to share student answer. Do not correct any misconceptions, as these will be addressed during the lesson.

Ask the class to define the following terms: longitude, latitude, earthquake, volcano, drought, flood, hurricane, and tornado.

Once students agree on the definitions of the terms tell students that today they will be using Cartesian coordinates to plot the locations of several major natural disasters. They will place their overhead on top of the coordinate graph and plot the disasters. In place of North and East, positive numbers are used. In place of South and West, negative numbers are use data sheets to groups and allow them time to plot the list of disasters you have provided them.

Pass out data sheets and overheads and allow students sufficient time to plot their assigned disasters.

After the plotting is complete, but before the groups come back together ask the students to look for trends they see in their data. Was their country directly affected? How? Remind students to save this information as this will be a component of their major project.

Have students think about nearby countries and trade partners. How might the natural disasters in other countries affect their county?

Are students able to correctly determine if their country was directly affected by a natural disaster?
Can students correctly plot disasters?


Complete the explain piece to share in class tomorrow.

PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

1996-2007, The University of Arizona
Last update: November 10, 2009
  Page Content: Rachel Hughes
Web Master: Travis Biazo