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Between Bulls and Mosquitoes

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Why do earthquakes happen? We don't understand this very well. Do volcanoes cause earthquakes? When the Earth quakes, what should we do? This is what I want to know. I have felt many earthquakes. Once, we felt an earthquake in our home on the fifth floor of an apartment building. Two children fell from a window. They were at home alone. It created a lot of panic. How many times have you felt an earthquake? Three strong ones. One day there was an earthquake while I was in school. We were in geography class. First it trembled slowly, then started to shake really hard. We panicked and we all left the building. I was in the bathroom one time, when there was an earthquake. I got scared and went outside. I quickly sat down and prayed to God. All the walls collapsed and broke into pieces. So it was a big one? Were you scared? The ongoing collision between the Indian subcontinent and Eurasia has resulted in a mountainous topography, with major fault systems and intense seismicity across Central Asia. The overall lack of earthquake resistant engineering methods and standards in this tectonically active region, as well as demographic shifts, diminishing levels of indigenous hazard knowledge, and lack of public access to earthquake information have created a seismically vulnerable environment for the population. We developed and implemented an earthquake education curriculum with middle school children in Dushanbe, in Tajikistan. The curriculum introduced students to fundamental scientific concepts behind earthquakes and physical processes associated with them. And also, earthquake hazards and mitigation techniques. The lessons that we used in this curriculum are integrated, hands-on, inquiry-bases, and are also region-specific. They are ordered logically, so they draw connections between concepts and reintroduce them as students proceed through the lessons. We ended the curriculum with a codification bookmaking activity just to reinforce the concepts students learned throughout the lessons. Did anyone explain to you why the Earth shook that day? Why do you think the Earth shakes? There is something alive, like an animal, and if it moves, the Earth shakes. Some people say, there's a bull in the Earth, and two mosquitoes, one positive, one negative. If a mosquito lands on his horn, the bull swings his head and the Earth shakes. And if he swings his head, the Earth shakes harder. But I don't believe this. We read in history that some people believe there is a big fish in the Earth, or bull, whatever it is, I don't know, it's some peoples' opinion. Do you think there is a big fish in the Earth? No, I don't think so, but some people believe this. When we bury our dead , after millions of years, they ascend to the Earth's surface like lava. This causes earthquakes, and right there, a mountain forms. We learned in physics class that there are natural resources in the Earth. When they combine, the Earth shakes. In the Earth there are dead dogs. They died millions of years ago. They leave the Earth like lava. It's okay if you don't know. Everyone has different opinions. One person thinks this way, another person thinks that way. But I don't really know the truth. What do you think? What's inside the Earth? Fire. Water. Gas, oil. Organics. People who have died, dogs. Water, oil. Volcanoes. Inside the Earth, there are different materials. When the molecules stick, they will explode. I think there are also different gases. Students compared the interior of a hard boiled egg to that of the Earth, and observed, described, and classified scientific data to learn about what happens at plate boundaries. You asked us to observe surface elevation near plate boundaries. We found out near most plate boundaries, the surface altitude is high. We've concluded that high volcanic activity is found at the boundaries. Students used modeling clay to observe Earth's crust under stress and they built and operated a model to observe stick-slip motion along a fault. They separated! And this is an example of... This is an example of what happens in the Atlantic. Africa split from America. Explain what you're doing. Near this region in North America, the ground moves like this, causing large earthquakes. Parallel movement. There you go! There you go! Could someone explain what's going on here? What happens? Mountains are formed during the collision! It only moved a little, because of the low elastic energy. This time, more elastic energy accumulated. When it's released , the earthquake is large. They also investigated how material properties can change using rubber bands and Silly Putty. This is plastic behavior. When it's pulled, it lengthens. With elastic behavior, the rubber band goes back to its original shape. When it's brittle, it'll break and separate. I implemented earthquake hazards activities with a primary focus on regional hazards, and the mechanisms that produce them. Students constructed building models and other structures, and tested them on a shake table. This structure will not collapse during an earthquake. This one won't collapse either. The top part may fall, but the foundation will remain stable. This collapses because it has a pipe running underneath it. The top will shake but the bottom won't. It's very strong. It's withstanding the earthquake! The roof collapsed, but the rest is strong. Can we try to do even better with more construction materials? Students used a simple setup to observe liquefaction, and how structures sink while resting on wet, unconsolidated sand. When there is an earthquake, the building will sink if the ground is wet. The reason for the sinking of large structures in Tajikistan, I think, is because of shallow ground water. Students built a model wall to learn how structural elements such as diagonal braces, shear walls, and rigid connections strengthen a structure, and provide a load path during an earthquake. The bottom of the wall is strong. It won't collapse during an earthquake. What should we do to prepare for an earthquake? I can't imagine what to do. If there was an earthquake during school, I would do what other students do. If they sit at their desks, I'll sit at my desk. If they go outside, I'll go outside. We've learned in our geography, physics and chemistry classes, to do what others around us do during an earthquake. I don't know but I understand that we should not run. We should stay where we are. My father told me about a Q'uranic verse called "Earthquake," but I haven't memorized it yet. My father wrote it down for me to memorize. So, we call upon God and prey. We should leave the place immediately. We should not wait around. When there's an earthquake, we should not stand in the way of it. We should go outside to be safe. If we are on the top floor of a building, I'm not sure, but we should stand in a door frame. Is this true? I know nothing. Students designed an emergency response plan for their school, and tested and improved this plan during drills which they conducted in their classroom. You have to hold on to the desk. we should protect our necks so they won't get hurt. We should protect our heads using the desk, so that nothing falls on them. We didn't find a good place, So I jumped to this side of the room! Students learned to identify and mitigate non-structural hazards in their schools and homes. Here we have compared these two figures. In the top picture, the furniture is not anchored to the walls, and during an earthquake, it could move around. In the lower picture, the furniture is anchored to the walls, so it won't fall down in an earthquake. During an earthquake, things that are stored on this shelf will fall. This one is more stable because it's attached to the wall with latched doors. This one is not anchored. We can see here, this rolling TV table could move around. We can take shelter under the bed. Students also designed a 3-day emergency kit by listing and discussing what the most critical items should be in a kit suited for their region. Water purification tablets, warm clothes for each person. Bandages, cotton balls, rubbing alcohol, medicine. You need medicine and bandages, matches, some source of light, blanket, sleeping mat, When your house is collapsed, where are you going to sleep? In winter, you need a tent to sleep in. To connect all of the curriculum concepts I asked students to use information from the activities to write stories about individuals and communities affected by an earthquake. I encouraged the students to incorporate as much of the material covered in the curriculum as possible but left them free to use personal experiences, cultural anecdotes, and invented characters or places to create the fundamental storyline. Students brainstormed, wrote, edited, illustrated, published, and bound their stories into a single signature book including a photograph of themselves and a self-written "about the author" section. Students presented their books to their teachers and families as they were presented with certificates to celebrate curriculum completion. We all know that India collides with Eurasia at about 50 millimeters per year. This is due to plate tectonics. There are mainly three types of earthquakes in the world. The first type is caused by convergence. This type of earthquake occurs frequently in Asia and India. We need to be aware during an earthquake. We shouldn't get scared or panic. we shouldn't stampede during an earthquake. We shouldn't stand in a door frame. I want every person to engage in dialogue with scientists to learn more about earthquakes. Earthquakes impact people every day, so we need to be prepared. I told my neighbor there is no bull in the Earth. She didn't believe me. She says it's written in the Q'uran that there is. There is no bull in the Earth. I told her there are bulls on the Earth. She says, "You're lying to me." To measure student performance and the effectiveness of instructional methods, I conducted post-assessment focus group discussions where students were asked a series of questions. What causes an earthquake? Plate tectonics. Who can explain the earthquake activity we did last week? When elastic energy accumulates, it causes an earthquake. Like pressure accumulation. It accumulates slowly, then becomes hard. The energy accumulates little by little, then a large earthquake may happen. The best part of the lessons was when we learned what to do and what we need to have during an earthquake. We now have comprehensive knowledge of earthquakes. When we grow up, we may become engineers, and we can build on this information. And protect ourselves. After an earthquake, help often arrives late. So we need to be able to help ourselves. Is there life on other planets? We want to learn about how GPS... We want to do a GPS experiment. To see if the Earth's crust is moving here in Dushanbe. Next year when you return to Tajikistan, we want to learn about other planets. This is our world, but what about Mars? We want to learn about it. Public access to accurate earthquake information is urgently needed in Central Asia where there is a high probability that a large earthquake will strike in the coming years. While our earthquake education efforts were successful, they were limited in scope and geographic location. Future efforts must include activities held in other urban and rural areas of Tajikistan. Teachers must be trained to conduct the lessons themselves to create a sustainable means of earthquake knowledge retention. Ultimately, these activities can be incorporated into official public school curricula for K-12 students by promoting partnerships between research institutions and public school administrations in the region.

Video Details

Duration: 24 minutes and 43 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Solmaz Mohadjer
Director: Solmaz Mohadjer
Views: 495
Posted by: mohadjer on Feb 7, 2009

Mountainous, impoverished, and isolated, Tajikistan faces impediments to social progress that can turn natural phenomena into humanitarian disasters. In this region, advancements in Earth sciences hardly translate into practical geohazards awareness for a citizenry that remains largely oblivious to the scientific explanations of seismic events. A local geosciences student travels to the region to investigate how this can be changed.

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