South Bay students 'Ready for Anything' through special exhibition on natural disasters

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Students at Katherine R. Smith Elementary school in San Jose are using class projects to show they're "Ready for Anything."

An exhibition by the same name has taken on a special meaning in the wake of California's devastating wildfires.

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The dozens of students shedding light on some of the most devastating natural disasters to hit California aren't your typical fourth or fifth graders. They are kids in California who are aware of what can happen around the state.

For the students, it's preparation through projects.

With guidance from the Buck Institute for Education (BIE), students tell ABC7 News they are truly "Ready for Anything."

Fifth grade student Joshua Lozano said, "I know that we're ready, 'cause we felt more ready then before."

Instead of the traditional reading, writing and arithmetic, students at Katherine Smith Elementary are being taught under a project-based learning approach.

"The learning is much more authentic," Doris Malmin told ABC7 News. "We always have a purpose for everything that we do, and the kids are all well aware of the purpose."

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Malmin is a fourth and fifth grade teacher at Katherine Smith Elementary. Her classroom turned into the Museum of Wildfires for Friday's exhibition.

Malmin introduced ABC7 News to one group of fifth graders took on the state's second-most destructive fire.

"This is about - it's a model of where the Tubbs Fire started," David Rodriguez said as he pointed to his group project. "Right here is Tubbs Lane."

He, Lozano, and Adrian Contreras explained to their peers how the Tubbs Fire started and what changes were implemented as a result of the devastation.

Another classroom introduced earthquakes, with a focus on Loma Prieta.

"It went all over the Bay Area and all the way to Los Angeles, California," another student explained.

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Teachers explained the "Ready for Anything" exhibition was assigned before the deadly Camp Fire sparked. Once it grew to be the most devastating fire in California, the curriculum and conversation surrounding preparedness became deeply relevant.

"They were really moved by that as well," Malmin said. "We started to incorporate some of the things in the Camp Fire and they started to ask more questions about, 'So, why did this really happen?'"

Beyond asking why, students are also asking how they can help. Malmin said the school has set a donation goal of $2,000. Student contribution raised $200 as of Thursday.

Here are more stories and videos related to the Camp Fire.
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