A.C. Marques1, A. Almeida2

1Centro Interdisciplinar de Estudos Educacionais (CIED) (PORTUGAL)
2Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa (IPL) / Centro Interdisciplinar de Estudos Educacionais (CIED) (PORTUGAL)
In certain regions of the planet seismicity obeys the following pattern: medium to high seismic risk associated to major earthquakes with a long period of low seismicity. This is the case of several earth regions like the Mediterranean from Iran to the Azores Archipelago, the San Francisco Bay or the Himalayan mountain system. The Lisbon region is included in the first area and the last major earthquake was precisely the historical earthquake of Lisbon in 1755.

Since these extreme episodes have obeyed a pattern of periodicity of more than 200 years, the expectation of living an earthquake with these features is low among the populations that live in areas with the seismic pattern above described. As a result, seismic prevention is often ignored in Portuguese schools, to the detriment of other more frequent risks, such as fires, floods or landslides. Moreover, earthquakes are unpredictable and can occur during school time, which increases the school responsibility for the need to address this issue.

Thus, a case study was developed in a primary school of Lisbon with 25 pupils, aged between 7 and 9 years, attending the a 3rd year of schooling, with the following aims:
i) to identify pupils' knowledge about the seismic risk in the Lisbon region;
ii) to develop a safety culture through the approach of prevention measures and ways of acting in case of earthquake.

For this purpose, a questionnaire was administered to assess the pupils' knowledge of the seismic phenomenon, including scientific questions about the seismic phenomenon and others related to their perception of seismic risk in the Lisbon area and also about what to do before, during and after an earthquake. The questionnaire was scored as a test and administered in three moments: before a set of sessions related to the seismic phenomenon (pre-test); after this approach, in two distinct moments: immediately after this set of sessions (post-test1); three months after this second administration (post-test2) to check learning persistence.

The set of sessions aimed the following objectives:
i) to understand the seismic phenomenon and its unpredictability;
ii) to know the measurement scales of an earthquake;
iii) to identify areas in Portugal and on earth with high seismic risk;
iv) to identify self-protection measures in case of an emergency;
v) to accomplish safety instructions and evacuation procedures in case of earthquake;
vi) to build an emergency kit involving children´s families.

The tests results were compared using the Wilcoxon (Z) test, between pre-test and post-test1 and pre-test and post-test2.

The results showed a statistically significant improvement in pupils' knowledge of seismic phenomena, which persisted in time, including how to behave in case of earthquake in school or in their homes. Even so, the fact that in Lisbon several areas are more dangerous than others to seismic risk was not fully understood by the pupils, even after the exploration of the geological map of this region. However, this may be related to the complexity of this approach, which may have led to several misunderstandings.

It is considered that this educational experience can give visibility to the need of the inclusion of seismic risk in schools, especially in areas with a seismic pattern as the one that was characterized above.