In groups, students designed model villages for 100 people, giving special consideration to which services and buildings should be included. After several sessions of ‘building’, the students were rightly very proud of their efforts.
The students were then shocked to discover a huge ‘storm’ had passed through the villages causing devastation and destruction. Words used to describe this included: "Sad! Unfair! Angry!" As the children reacted to this news, someone pointed out, "At least it wasn't for real!" We then talked about what happens when a DISASTER really happens. What would the people do? What would they need? How could we help? This discussion is still going on and it appears that we really do have AN ACTIVE PLANET!
In spite of the students’ disappointment, they reinforced their buildings and added greater protection so that the villages would be better prepared in the future. Of course, the children recovered from their ‘shock’ relatively quickly but the experience was a valuable starting point in helping the children to empathise with those affected by natural disasters.