Students learn about the structure of the earth and how an earthquake happens. In one activity, students make a model of the earth including all of its layers. In a teacher-led demonstration, students learn about continental drift. In another activity, students create models demonstrating the different types of faults.
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Students learn about factors that engineers take into consideration when designing buildings for earthquake-prone regions. Using online resources and simulations available through the Earthquakes Living Lab, students explore the consequences of subsurface ground type and building height on seismic destruction. Working in pairs, students think like engineers to apply what they have learned to sketches of their own building designs intended to withstand strong-magnitude earthquakes. A worksheet serves as a student guide for the activity.
Students learn what causes earthquakes, how we measure and locate them, and their effects and consequences. Through the online Earthquakes Living Lab, student pairs explore various types of seismic waves and the differences between shear waves and compressional waves. They conduct research using the portion of the living lab that focuses primarily on the instruments, methods and data used to measure and locate earthquakes. Using real-time U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) data accessed through the living lab interface, students locate where earthquakes are occurring and how frequently. Students propose questions and analyze the real-world seismic data to find answers and form conclusions. They are asked to think critically about why earthquakes occur and how knowledge about earthquakes can be helpful to engineers. A worksheet serves as a student guide for the activity.
Students study how geology relates to the frequency of large-magnitude earthquakes in Japan. Using the online resources provided through the Earthquakes Living Lab, students investigate reasons why large earthquakes occur in this region, drawing conclusions from tectonic plate structures and the locations of fault lines. Working in pairs, students explore the 1995 Kobe earthquake, why it happened and the destruction it caused. Students also think like engineers to predict where other earthquakes are likely to occur and what precautions might be taken. A worksheet serves as a student guide for the activity.
Students gather evidence to explain the theory of plate tectonics. Using the online resources at the Earthquakes Living Lab, students examine information and gather evidence supporting the theory. They also look at how volcanoes and earthquakes are explained by tectonic plate movement, and how engineers use this information. Working in pairs, students think like engineers and connect what they understand about the theory of plate tectonics to the design of structures for earthquake-resistance. A worksheet serves as a student guide for the activity.
Students investigate how mountains are formed. Concepts include the composition and structure of the Earth's tectonic plates and tectonic plate boundaries, with an emphasis on plate convergence as it relates to mountain formation. Students learn that geotechnical engineers design technologies to measure movement of tectonic plates and mountain formation, as well as design to alter the mountain environment to create safe and dependable roadways and tunnels.
Altimeters onboard satellites such as Jason-2 measure sea surface height and other characteristics of the ocean surface. These characteristics are linked to underlying processes and structures, making altimetry data useful for understanding the full depth of the global ocean. This 75-minute module explores major discoveries made possible by altimetry data in oceanography, marine meteorology, the marine geosciences, climate studies, the cryosphere, and hydrology. For example, altimeters have played a vital role in detecting and monitoring sea level rise and its relation to climate change. The module also describes many of the practical applications of altimetry data, for example, in hurricane forecasting and monitoring climate events such as ENSO. Finally, the module describes Jason-2, which was launched in 2008, its products and services, and the Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM), of which it is a part. OSTM is a collaboration between EUMETSAT and CNES (Europe) and NOAA and NASA (United States).
In the Mapping Earthquakes to Save the World activity, students leverage real-time data to plot earthquakes on a world map. The fate of the world is in their hands – the President of the United States has asked for their help to save humankind. Students identify patterns in their data and connect earthquakes with tectonic plates, making recommendations back to the President about where people are safe and where people are most at risk. This activity was heavily inspired by a project from the Stevens Institute for Technology Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education.
The high school earth and physical science unit moves through an exploration of tectonic plates, why and how they move, and the earthquakes that they cause. As the final project, teams learn about Early Warning Systems for earthquakes and how they have saved millions of lives in other countries. Teams take on a population in Oregon and design a ShakeAlert system to give them the seconds required to prepare for a mega earthquake.