Engaging Teenagers with Freaky History

Updated: Feb 24


I'm a much bigger fan of working with gravity rather than against it. You see working with this powerful force is far easier than trying to battle its strength. My students love video games (as do I), so why fight it? Instead, I work with gravity (my student's interests) and correlate video games into many of my lesson plan creations.

The Dyatlov Pass incident details the mysterious deaths of nine ski hikers in the northern Ural Mountains (Russia) on February 2, 1959. This experienced group, who were all from the Ural Polytechnical Institute, had set camp on the slopes of Kholat Syakhl when it all went wrong. That evening something made them lash their way out of their tents from the inside and escape the campsite, poorly dressed for the heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures.

An investigation determined that six victims died from hypothermia but others showed evidence of physical trauma, including a fractured skull, brain damage, and a missing tongue. The investigation concluded that an "unknown compelling force" had caused the deaths. Consequently, this region was closed to hikers and expeditions for three years following the incident. The name of this area is named Dyatlov Pass, honoring the group's leader, Igor Dyatlov.

The sequence of events remains unclear due to no survivors. However, many explanations have been postulated as to the cause, which include an animal attack, hypothermia, an avalanche, panic, military involvement, or any combination of the aforementioned.

While working throughout my Dyatlov Pass Incident lesson guide, my students analyzed, synthesized, and evaluated the information they observed through my game play videos. An example of the first video activity is shown below.

Once the students completed all 21 video and writing activities, they are presented with three research options. When they've chosen their chosen topic, they choose the manner in which they would like to present their findings. Their options included:

-typical hard copy paper

-Google Doc

-Microsoft OneNote

-Microsoft Sway

-YouTube video

Below are examples of my students creations!

Finally, after the students completed their final writing/presentation, they took part in my new The Dyatlov Pass Incident: The Breakout EDU Edition!

This Breakout EDU lesson teaches critical thinking, teamwork, complex problem solving, and most importantly, is just plain fun! Take a look for yourself below!

To read more on this concept, check out Chapter 9: On the Lowdown, in my book, Teach4Endurance: Surviving the Swim, Bike, and Run in Today's Classroom.