01 Feb 2022
01 Feb 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal GC.

The imaginary eruption. Volcanic activity through kids’ eyes

Micol Todesco1, Emanuela Ercolani1, Flaminia Brasini2, Delia Modonesi2, Vera Pessina3, Rosella Nave4, and Romano Camassi1 Micol Todesco et al.
  • 1Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Sezione di Bologna, 40128, Italy
  • 2ConUnGioco Onlus, Roma, 00081, Italy
  • 3Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Sezione di Milano, 20133, Italy
  • 4Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Osservatorio Vesuviano, Napoli, 80124, Italy

Abstract. Strategies of risk mitigation become effective when citizens facing hazardous phenomena adopt rational behaviors that contribute to lower the risk. This is more likely to occur when endangered communities share a widespread understanding of natural phenomena and their impacts. To reach this goal, educational and outreach materials are often organized around the descriptions of the natural process and its effects. Unfortunately, however, receiving correct information does not automatically grant the adoption of safe behaviors. Our teaching efforts may fail because of pre-existing biases, beliefs and misconceptions. The identification of these biases is important to plan effective educational campaigns, capable of providing the concepts that are needed to actually inform citizens’ choices about natural hazards.

In this work, we present the results of an unconventional workshop on volcanic risk that we proposed to primary and secondary schools (ages 6–13), in Italy. The workshop is meant to explore the mental models that kids and youngsters have about volcanic eruptions and it takes the form of a creative exercise. We asked the students to draw and write a story in four frames, describing the onset and outcome of an imaginary eruption. All stories were then presented to the class, and always provided interesting hints to spark discussion about volcanic processes and hazards. As a whole, the collected stories provide an interesting, multifaceted description of volcanic eruptions and their potential impacts, as imagined by the kids. A careful analysis of this material provided interesting insights useful to improve future outreach material and educational plans. The workshop is simple to reproduce, even remotely, and could be easily extended to different types of hazards.

While very simple to organize, this approach grants the secure engagement of most participants and offers a very different perspective on pupils’ understanding of natural phenomena.

Micol Todesco et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on gc-2022-2', Anonymous Referee #1, 09 Mar 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Micol Todesco, 16 Mar 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on gc-2022-2', Sam Illingworth, 08 Apr 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Micol Todesco, 20 Apr 2022

Micol Todesco et al.

Micol Todesco et al.


Total article views: 352 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)
HTML PDF XML Total Supplement BibTeX EndNote
253 79 20 352 31 7 6
  • HTML: 253
  • PDF: 79
  • XML: 20
  • Total: 352
  • Supplement: 31
  • BibTeX: 7
  • EndNote: 6
Views and downloads (calculated since 01 Feb 2022)
Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 01 Feb 2022)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 322 (including HTML, PDF, and XML) Thereof 322 with geography defined and 0 with unknown origin.
Country # Views %
  • 1
Latest update: 24 May 2022
Short summary
How do kids imagine the onset and outcome of a volcanic eruption? A workshop proposed to the schools tries to answer this question by collecting stories written and drawn by kids and youngsters (age 6–13). The eruption they have in mind is an excellent starting point to build classroom conversations about volcanic risk and its mitigation. At the same time, the workshop provided us valuable hints to improve educational materials and lesson plans accounting for kids’ knowledge and beliefs