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Terrorism and Preparedness Data Resource Center

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Lesson plan: Preparedness for a potential terrorist attack

This lesson plan is aimed at High School students. It is expected that this age group would carry the information learned back to their family, and also into their future College or professional careers.

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1.1 What is Terrorism?

Aims: To provide the class with an understanding of the complexity of defining terrorism in the world today. Students will recognize how current definitions fail to adequately encompass terrorism, and how these definitions vary across the globe.

1.1.1 Research question

Create your own definition of terrorism. How does this differ from the definition used by the United States government? What flaws can you identify in your definition? Will we ever be able to construct a solid definition of terrorism?

1.2 Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction

Aims: Students will be able to differentiate between Nuclear, Radiological, Biological, and Chemical Terrorism. Furthermore, students will understand historical precedents of use of these weapons and the consequences.

1.2.1 Group research project- Initial meetings in class, followed by assignment- one week deadline.

Breaking the class down into four groups, ask students to research and present any historical precedents of the use of one of these weapons. Students should particularly consider the following:

  1. Who used the weapon?
  2. Why do you think this weapon was selected instead of a more conventional form of weapon?
  3. Who was targeted?
  4. What were the long and short term effects of using this weapon?
  5. Was this a successful attack? If not, why not?

1.2.2 Class debate

There is a high threat that the average citizen will be exposed to one of these weapons. Discuss.

1.3 What is Preparedness?

Aims: The student will understand the importance of preparedness, and the different ways in which responses may occur.

1.3.1 Assignment: Using the Terrorism & Preparedness Data Resource Center, investigate current reports and research examining preparedness.

1.4 Cyber Terrorism Prevention

Aims: To draw awareness to the current concerns surrounding the use of the Internet by terror groups, particularly as a tool for theft and network destruction.

1.4.1 Assignment: Using the Internet- find an example of each of the above. What were they called? What damage do they do?

1.5 Possible Class Field Trip

Instructor should seek out a possible excursion to a local emergency service or government building where plans are formed for emergency response to disasters, natural or otherwise. Contacts can often be found through local law enforcement web-sites:


1.6 Current strategies for preparedness

Aims: To provide the class with a further understanding of current strategies for preparedness to a terrorist attack.

• Lead a class discussion into what the students saw on the class trip, paying particular attention to what students agreed, disagreed, liked, and disliked about what they heard and saw.
• Highlight other agencies who have considered the issue of preparedness.
• Break class into groups and ask them to consider what they would use for a preparedness kit in their own home.

1.7 Current Emergency Strategy Plans

Aims: In preparation for the final project, students will gain an understanding and appreciation of what current emergency plans are in place.

1.8 Final Group Project

Divide the class into groups:

  1. County Government- Urban
  2. County Government- Rural
  3. State Government
  4. National Government

Working as part of the group, they must:

The group will then present their strategy to the class who will serve as an audience to challenge the plan, raising concerns and questions.

1.9 Final Class Project

Depending on the size of the class, break the groups into sizes of no more than 10.

The instructor will ask the groups to organize themselves as a terrorism response committee. Each person within the group will maintain a unique role. These might include, but not limited to:

Once the group is organised into their various departments, the instructor will present the committee chair with an emergency scenario. Using the lessons learnt on the course to-date, the student committee has to respond to the emergency scenario within a strict time limit (approximately 30mins). The response should include:

  1. What they identify the threat to be
  2. Who the threat is directed towards
  3. What are the first initial steps required
  4. What are the possible long term consequences

At the end of the time, the committee secretary should have recorded the committee’s final responses to the required points, to hand into the instructor.