Mathematics in the context of natural disasters

NISMED Director Dr. Soledad A. Ulep and Earth Science Specialist Eligio C. Obille Jr. participated in the 8th APEC-Tsukuba International Conference held in Tokyo, Japan, on 12-17 February 2014. The conference was part of a three-year-long project that aims to ‘identify the best practices that ensure students are learning the foundation of mathematics and science, and applying this learning to real-world issues, such as preserving the environment, reducing damage due to disasters, and achieving green and sustainable growth.’ 

Since 2012, the project has been developing programs (e.g., booklets on e-textbook format with teaching materials) for APEC economies to educate teachers and children about disasters and how to save themselves from disasters such as tsunami and earthquakes, typhoons and floods, and fires and volcanic eruptions. This is achieved through the use of visual materials, sharing of essential evacuation strategies, and using actual data which are necessary to scientifically understand the mechanism and influence of disasters. These materials, developed through Lesson Study, are currently being used by APEC lesson study project institutions. 

In the APEC-Tsukuba International Conference, mathematics is considered as ‘the major literacy subject necessary for economic developments.’ Instead of simply solving hypothetical mathematics problems, the project promotes teaching mathematics in the context of natural disasters. Through lesson study, the project aims to produce an interactive textbook (e-book) that will help students prepare for an emergency, with emphasis for fires and volcanic eruption this year. The results will be presented in September 2014 at Khon Kaen University, Thailand. 
Through lesson study, specialists from the Asia-Pacific region identify ways to effectively
teach mathematics in the context of natural disasters
(Photo credit:
The conference was attended by various APEC economies such as Brunei, Chile, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, United States, and Vietnam. The three-year-long project is led by Dr. Maitree Inprasitha of the Center for Research in Mathematics Education, Khon Kaen University, Thailand and Dr. Masami Isoda of the Center for Research on International Cooperation in Educational Development, University of Tsukuba, Japan. 

Part of the week-long conference was a field trip to Nikko World Heritage Site. Due to heavy snowfall, the trip was cancelled and participants went instead to the Edo- Tokyo Museum, and Tokyo National Museum and National Museum of Nature and Science at Ueno.