Explore the different ways that scientists monitor volcanic activity.
- Read the project and the relevant Teacher Assistant material.
- Define how you would like to introduce this project. You can use the video provided with the project or use your own material.
- Determine the end result of this project. For example, define the parameters of your students’ presentations and the specific elements that they should include in their documents.
2. Explore Phase
Scientists around the world monitor the activity of various volcanoes. In some cases, they do this in order to make sure that the people living around these volcanoes are always safe. In other cases, they do this in order to prepare important scientific expeditions to study the composition of the earth.
Volcanoes are described as being in one of three different stages: extinct, dormant and active. For each of these stages, scientists have assigned a color, and have defined the actions to be taken at each stage:
Green: the volcano is not showing any signs of activity.
Yellow: the volcano is showing some signs of activity and should be monitored.
Orange: the volcano is active with some minor emissions.
Red: the volcano is active with major emissions, or the volcano will erupt imminently.
Questions for discussion
- What are the different stages of a volcano?
Volcanoes are considered to be active, dormant, or extinct. There are different active stages of volcanoes and each of them is monitored differently.
2. How can scientists explore volcanoes?
Volcanologists or geologists explore active volcanoes using different devices in order to reduce the danger of such exploration. Rovers and drones are now used to collect data regarding rock composition, temperature, substances in the air, etc.
3. What would be a good way to signal that a volcano is erupting?
Different alarm systems are used around the world. Colors are often used to indicate the level of volcanic activity and the actions that should be taken.
3. Create and Test Phase
Build and program
The students will build a device that will provide scientists with information about volcanic activity. When the device is shaken, the needle of the device will run a random amount of time and stop in front of one of the colored bricks. This will simulate an alert system to indicate the volcanic hazard level in the area.
This program will enable your students to control the motion of the alarm device. Allow some time for exploration and tinkering as your students become familiar with the needle’s movements.
They should tinker enough to understand how to reset the needle to the starting position.
Plan and try a solution:
Program your alarm to alert you when the needle stops at the red position. For each red alert, move the drone into the volcano so that it can study the eruption.
Try and modify your solution:
Program your alarm to emit different signals for each of the three stages of the volcano. For each alert, move the drone, the animal and the rover according to the signal.
4. Share Phase
The students should take some time to compile the information that they have collected throughout this project.
Depending on which skill(s) you would like to focus on, you might ask each team or student for one or more of the following:
- A sketch of their strategy (Decomposition)
- A video of their robot (Evaluation)
- A video of them explaining their solution (Abstraction)
- A screen capture of their programming string (Algorithmic Thinking)
- An explanation of their program (Algorithmic Thinking)
- Pictures and explanations of some of the tests that they carried out during the project (Evaluation)
Organize a session in which each team can present a demonstration of their solution(s).
Explore the different ways that scientists monitor volcanic activity
Create and program an alarm to indicate the different stages of volcanic activity
Test your program and how well it indicates these different stages
Share you program and ideas for how to succeed in this project