In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in the Houston metropolitan area. Tied with Hurricane Katrina (2005) as the costliest tropical cyclone on record, this Category 4 storm dropped as much as 60 inches of rain and caused $125 billion in damage.
Deb Hill, Secondary Science Coordinator at the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District (CFISD) located just outside of Houston, was at home when Harvey hit on what was scheduled to be the first day of school. As she watched her building’s parking lot flood from her apartment balcony, Deb couldn’t help but think, “Oh my god it’s the game, it’s playing out in front of me in real time!” As part of the 2017 JASON Learning National Educator’s Conference, Deb had joined a group of her colleagues on a visit to the National Academy of Sciences to play the Extreme Event game. After enjoying Extreme Event and then experiencing one of the country’s worst natural disasters, Deb decided that she would incorporate the game into the CFISD curriculum. Extreme Event reminded Deb of the importance of science literacy in general and she also saw it as a way to better prepare students for disasters they might face in the future.
Deb applied for and received district Title II funds, which enabled the creation of close to two dozen sets of Extreme Event game materials and the travel of LabX staff to Houston to train CFISD teachers. In May 2018, LabX staff trained close to 100 CFISD secondary science and social studies curriculum coaches who then trained the rest of the teaching staff during a professional development session later in the summer. As a result of Deb’s work, every 7th grade social studies and science classroom will play the Extreme Event game during the 2018-2019 school year. That’s close to 9,000 students who will learn more about what it takes to build community resilience in the face of natural disasters!
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