America’s Tsunami: Are We Next? (2005) is an in-depth documentary investigating the causes and human impact of the December 26, 2004 Indonesian tsunami that killed over 250,000 people. The accompanying video guide contains 46 questions. They are predominantly higher order thinking questions, but there are some basic questions thrown into the mix. This documentary conceptually explores the scientific underpinnings that lead up to the tsunami, the massive destruction and impact it caused, and how the findings from this tsunami could impact future preparation plans.
This documentary is best suited for the following high school classes: geology, ecology, environmental science, and oceanography. Scientific concepts mentioned include plate tectonics, water displacement, natural disasters, wave dynamics, wave propagation, fault lines, seismic activity, deep ocean exploration, and the Cascadia fault line. There are some graphic images of dead bodies shown, so please address this with the students first. Nothing too graphic, but a word of warning none the less.
Jamie and Adam look into the myth that Nikola Tesla invented an earthquake machine that almost destroyed his research building. Tory, Grant, and Kari look into the myth of the exploding lava lamp and if other containers can explode with deadly consequences. Science concepts discussed include resonance, resonance frequency, feedback, feedback loops, oscillations, wave frequency, energy, wave superposition, kinetic energy, thermal energy, pressure and temperature relationships, the rapid cooling of heated surfaces, and structural integrity.
Adam and Jaimie first test to see if a lead balloon can really fly, then Kari, Tory, and Grant set out to find if it is possible to surf a wave made from exploding dynamite. Science topics include structural integrity, proof-of-concept, experimental design, gas density, volume vs. surface area ratio, static charge build-up, lift, volume calculations, wave frequency, wave amplitude, shockwave effects on biological systems, and wave expansion vs. energy dissipation.