By Ruth Hund

Read time 1 min 15 secs...

Last week in Mr. DiTanna's and Ms. Hund's 8th Grade Math classes, students participated in a real-life simulation that threatened the lives of thousands. If you missed the Instagram story, here is a recount of what took place and how students worked together to solve a potentially catastrophic scenario. 

In August 1997, the British West Indies island of Monserrat was threatened with Tropical Storm Erika and an eruption from the local volcano, Soufriere Hills. Mr. DiTanna’s and Ms. Hund’s 8th-grade math classes participated in a computer-generated simulation of this historical event. The simulation was completed with the Challenger Learning Center of Colorado Springs, which developed this middle school STEM activity in conjunction with NASA. Students were assigned to one of six teams. The Communications Team was in charge of ensuring proper communications between all other teams and the command center in Colorado Springs. The Data Team was in charge of accurately entering all data and calculations from the other teams into the command center database. The Satellite Team tracked the simulated satellite to ensure accurate data transfer to and from the island of Montserrat. The Volcano Team tracked seismic indicators and made predictions on when the volcano would erupt. The Hurricane Team was responsible for monitoring and projecting the path and strength of the hurricane. The Evacuation Team formulated a plan to preserve lives on the island. Students were required to correctly interpret latitude and longitude, plot coordinates on maps, and carry out various calculations. For two and a half hours, the library computer lab was abuzz with the teams working together, students checking each other’s work, and running back and forth to the communications and data teams. The group did manage an effective strategy to save lives on the island of Monserrat. Students walked away from the simulation with a greater appreciation of the necessity of mathematics, accuracy, and precision.