Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students investigate how the body responds to natural disasters and analyse the factors influencing their emotions in situations where the human body triggers a fight, flight or freeze response. Students will be asked to reflect on their own experiences of when this response may have been triggered, further requiring students to identify the physical reactions their bodies experienced during this time.

Subject: HPE.

Year Level: 7 & 8.

Topics: Health and Wellbeing, Sustainability and Climate Change.

Teaching Time: 70 minutes.

21st-century skills: 

CommunicatingCritical ThinkingEmpathyLeadershipProblem FindingSocial SkillsTeam Work  

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 7 HPE:

  • Analyse factors that influence emotional responses and devise strategies to self-manage emotions (AC9HP8P06)
  • Refine protective behaviours and evaluate community resources to seek help for themselves and others (AC9HP8P08).

Syllabus outcomes: PDHPE4.3.

General capabilities: Personal and Social Capability

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability

Relevant parts of Year 7 & 8 HPE achievement standards: 

Students analyse factors that influence emotional responses. They investigate strategies and practices that enhance their own, others’ and community health, safety and wellbeing. Students demonstrate skills to make informed decisions, and propose and implement actions that promote their own and others’ health, safety and wellbeing.

 Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – teacher will need to facilitate class discussion and actively prompt students to reflect and build upon their learning and understanding.

Resources required:

  • A device capable of presenting a video and images to the class
  • Student Worksheets – one copy per student.

Related Professional Development: We encourage you to undertake the free PD Course How to teach a unit on fire and flood resilience for tips on how to best deliver this lesson.

If you’re concerned about the challenging nature of these topics, consider the free PD Course How to approach trauma in the classroom for information on how best to support your students.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Handling Sensitive Topics:
While presenting the lesson, you may notice that students could develop heightened emotions as you uncover the physical and psychological effects of hazards and disasters. Resilience, rebuilding and hope are essential learnings from the lessons. Therefore, it is vital to create a psychologically safe place for students to discuss and debrief, shall they need to. The tasks can be activating for some students and could trigger old memories that some students may find challenging to revisit or process. You should direct students to a school counsellor if they require additional support and read through the Handling Sensitive Topics and Issues for more information.

Before delivering this lesson, ensure that you understand the physiological responses of the human body in situations that evoke a fight, flight or freeze response (also known as the acute stress response). During the fight, flight or freeze situations, the body’s sympathetic ner

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Student Worksheet

Thought-starter: If a person is aware of the fight, flight and freeze response, do you think their reaction to a stressful or hazardous situation such as a fire would be different? Why or why not?

1. Physical Reactions
Your task is to identify your body's physical reactions during your chosen experience on the diagram below using arrows and annotations similar to the projected image. For example, you may draw an arrow to their sweaty palms or lungs to indicate rapid breathing.

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