Tsunami Awareness

noaa; Department of Commerce
Type Category
Instructional Materials
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.



This 3 minute, 17 second video allows students to experience the phenomenon of a tsunami. It uses informative captions to explain what a tsunami is, how it is formed, and how its impact can be lessened for humans. The focus of a tsunami’s origin explains how   energy from earth’s natural processes is transferred to create dangerous ocean wave formation.  Students observe safety and evacuation procedures, noting landscape changes and types of destruction that tsunamis create.


Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • Grade 5
  • Grade 4
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

4-ESS3-2 Generate and compare multiple solutions to reduce the impacts of natural Earth processes on humans.

Clarification Statement: Examples of solutions could include designing an earthquake resistant building and improving monitoring of volcanic activity.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions.

This resource was not designed to build towards this performance expectation, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Students could be encouraged to use the media as a resource for information regarding human response to tsunamis. Emphasis could be on the discussion of how injury or death can be lessened, noting that the suggested procedures are not fail safe and may not prevent tsunami damage exhibited in the video. Video may be scary for some students and should be previewed by the teacher.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Teacher could select start/stop points in the film to discuss disaster response methods with the class and/or tsunami science in conjunction with wave DCI’s

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students could discuss other types of natural hazards that result from natural processes, as well as solutions that are in place to lessen their impacts. Questions could include - “ How could the solutions we already use help us in lessening the impact of tsunamis?” “Why are these solutions applicable?” Supplemental link- Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute has a fairly interactive and detailed site on tsunami awareness, survival and history. http://www.whoi.edu/home/interactive/tsunami/indexEnglish.h

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Students could review the video, noting landform changes that occurred due to the tsunami impact. They could illustrate those changes in science journals, and/or view other examples of before/after tsunami photos. Causes of tsunamis could be reviewed with students after they have viewed the video. Teacher guided discussion could focus on natural earth processes that cause tsunamis, reviewing underwater earthquake and ocean floor movement. Students could also discuss the explicit relationships that occur between the cause and effect of tsunamis , then generate ways they think these relationships help engineers ( and the students themselves) reduce the impacts of the tsunamis.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The resource does provide opportunities for students to discuss the effects that tsunamis produce as well as generate possible means to lessen the threat of injury or death. It does not explicitly give students ways to engage, justify, or clarify their ideas, and would require teacher guided discussion to elicit a better connection to three-dimensional learning, Tips provided for DCI and Practices could be implemented.

  • Instructional Supports: Instructional supports for limited differentiation of instruction are included in the use of captions that describe the video. The teacher might show the video without including captions, allowing students to describe what they have observed. This activity could generate student predictions about extent of tsunami damage, focusing on their ideas for limiting impact. Student misconceptions about

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Formative assessment could be conducted by the teacher during the viewing of the video. Students could take notes, or illustrate video sections , then work as a class to complete an expanded K-W-L chart, with an emphasis on ways tsunami damage could be lessened, but not prevented.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: There is no technological interactivity component included in this resource.