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    Introduction to Volcanoes and Tectonic Plates
    Using "Volcano"

    Subject:     Science & Technology — Earth Science & Vulcanology

    Ages:          10 - 13: Middle School Level

    Length:       Snippet: Approximately 20 minutes of film in three segments. Lesson: two 45 - 55 minute class periods. Homework: a research assignment between the two class periods.

    Learner Outcomes/Objectives:     Students will learn about volcanoes,their likely locations, the factors that can lead to an eruption, the relation of plate tectonics to volcanic eruptions, and the kind of certainty that scientists can and cannot provide. They will become familiar with the way that volcanoes are classified and four of the important phenomena that happen before and during eruptions: heating of underground and surface water, lava flows, ash clouds, and volcanic bombs. Students will be introduced to volcanic events at: Paricutin, Mexico; Pinatube in the Philippines; and Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland.

    Rationale:     The unlikely event of a volcano erupting in the middle of Los Angeles and the film's mix of volcanic features will provide interest and dramatic effect to the lesson. The events of the movie are loosely based on real incidents in which a volcano suddenly surged to life in an unexpected location and when advancing lava was cooled and stopped with water. Comparison of the real events with the film will reinforce the differences between fact and fiction in movies while providing interest and context for the lesson.

    Description of the Snippet:     The first segment starts with a clash between public officials reluctant to call an alarm which will disrupt the life of the city and scientists who cannot provide certainties but advise concern and action based on ambiguous warning signs.

    As usually happens in movies, the feared catastrophe occurs. The second segment guides the audience through a succession of dramatic renditions of events related to the sudden eruption of a new volcano. The simultaneous appearance of heated surface water, lava flows, ash clouds, and volcanic bombs in one volcanic event is unrealistic and even impossible in some aspects; still, these features do occur in different kinds of eruptions and with their own rhythm. It can be explained how and when they occur, introducing both types of eruptions, namely those more violent ones that produce steep sloped volcanic cones and those with voluminous lava flows resulting in gentle slopes.

    The third segment shows the spectacular way in which a portion of the city is saved and a menacing lava flow is stopped. This is also an exaggeration, based on a real event. The historical fact can be recalled and used to explain realistic timescales of the cooling of lava and which aspects of the depicted solution would be impossible to implement in real life.


Learner Outcomes/Objectives
Description of the Snippet
Using the Snippet in Class:
      Step by Step
      Supplemental Materials

Location: Minute and second calculations may differ from what is set out below. Check your disc for exact locations before using the film in class.

    Segment #1 starts at the beginning of Chapter 6, 20:25 minutes into the movie, and ends at 24:18 minutes. It is approximately 4 minutes long. (The segment begins with Amy Barnes talking to a man named Stan and ends at MacArthur Park with Amy walking disgustedly away from Mike Roark. Note that Dr. Barnes kicks a can and utters a profanity at about 24:20.)

    Segment #2 starts a few seconds into Chapter 8, at 30:05 minutes, and goes through the middle of Chapter 10, until 42:00 minutes, for a length of approximately 12 minutes. (The segment begins with Roark driving up Wilshire Boulevard with his daughter and it shows a shaken Dr. Barnes emerging from her exploration of the tunnels under MacArthur Park during which her co-worker was killed by magma coming up from below the earth’s surface. The segment continues with the volcano in full eruption and magma spreading along the street toward a car. The segment ends just after Roark, holding his daughter, jumps off the car to safety and the audience sees the beginning of the cone of the volacano.) This segment shows the four features to be commented upon: heated surface water and underground pipes, volcanic ash falling through the air, lava flows and volcanic bombs.

    Segment #3 begins at the start of Chapter 15, 1:10:15 hours into the movie and extends until 1:13:47 hours, about 3.5 minutes (The segment starts with lava approaching the barricade and ends with success in stopping the lava and an announcer stating, "The steam that is coming off this thing is absolutely unbelievable.")

    Denouement:(optional): This segment begins at Chapter 23, 1:38:04 hours into the film, and ends when the credits start to roll at 1:38:18 hours, a total length or about 14 seconds. (Just before the end credits roll, this segment starts with scenes of LA sky scrapers with the new volcano in the background and the entry for the new volcano in a fictional database of volcanoes.)

Possible Problems with this Snippet: None.

What about showing the whole movie? TWM does not recommend showing the entire film in class because it is a waste of time. Students will get all that the movie has to offer about volcanoes and eruptions by watching the three segments of the snippet.

Reminder: Obtain all required permissions from school administrators before showing this snippet.

This film is available from Amazon.com.

Teachers who want parental permission to show this snippet can use TWM's Movie Permission Slip.


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