When Oakcrest High School science teacher Dave Jungblut looks at the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, like the rest of us, he sees tragedy - but he also sees a lesson.
Since undertaking a major study of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2003, Jungblut has incorporated real-world natural and man-made disasters into his science curriculum at the school.
"I love being real and the science behind it," Jungblut said. "It's a time for all of us to learn."
In conducting these lessons, Jungblut shares his observations with students while having them make their own, asking them to determine the how and why of these events in addition to studying their consequences.
This year has been rife with meteorological events worthy of study, and Jungblut has held in-depth discussions with his students on the June derecho storm and, more recently, Hurricane Sandy.
Senior Richard Tash, who is in Jungblut's environmental science class, said he finds the teacher's lessons more valuable than simply reading a textbook.
"It's better than doing random bookwork on things we never experience, and it's cooler to talk about it first hand and doing things, experiencing it," Tash said.
Jungblut's analysis of these events emphasizes problem solving - when he goes over the BP oil spill, for example, he asks his students to identify the cause of the disaster and has them come up with solutions.
The scientific method is paramount in Jungblut's assignments, and he asks his students to make their own observations rather than regurgitate those of others. In a recent discussion, Jungblut asked student Trevor Tunney, who worked on cleanup after the derecho during the summer, about what he noticed during the work.
"White oaks generally tended to be a little stronger, they're a little more resilient to the wind, so they weren't really uprooted, they were kind of snapped in half or snapped at a certain point of the tree," Tunney said. "Maple, where they've got a shallower root system, they kind of blew over."
Recently, Jungblut incorporated the school's media curriculum into his students' assignments, asking them to put together videos on various aspects of recent disasters.
So far, they have uploaded a video of one of Jungblut's lessons about Sandy, featuring footage from the Ocean City bayfront. Future videos will compare and contrast Sandy with other major storms, as well as provide an in-depth analysis of a few of the curious attributes that made the storm a meteorological anomaly.
Jason Thomas, who runs the school's media program, said Jungblut has helped give his students practical experience and is doing a valuable service for the community in posting the videos online for all to see.
"He's doing it on a level that everybody can understand, and that's why I think it was important for us to do these videos, to share it not only with the students here, but with the community, because we're all impacted by the storm," Thomas said. "We're doing great stuff here at Oakcrest, and Dave's working really hard to put that in perspective for everybody."
Student videos are posted to Jungblut's website,
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