|Grade span:||3 to 8|
|Duration:||Three days or longer|
Description:Exploring Earthquakes is one example of how you can implement the practice of Integrating Science Across the Curriculum. In this activity, students use books and the Internet to gather data about earthquakes and how they affect people. Language arts skills help in researching, generating ideas and questions, and communicating and interpreting data. Math skills help in measuring and finding locations with coordinate map systems. Art skills are used to create foldable graphic organizers.
- Gather, read, and understand data about real-world scenarios
- Understand earthquakes, how they are measured, where they occur, and how they affect people
- Work collaboratively
- Create graphic organizers
- Maintain a journal
- Copies of the books The Restless Earth by Melvin Berger and The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen
- Individual student maps enlarged and printed on 11" x 17" paper
- Large world map (Pacific view preferred)
- Small colored dots
- Colored pencils or crayons (1 set/student)
- Rulers (clear preferred)
- Computer with Internet connection
- 11" x 17" inch paper folded in shutter fold
- Colored pencils, scissors
- Picture of world continents and oceans with cross-section of the Earth diagram
- Model of Foldable Word Graphic Organizer (PDF)
- 8.5" x 11" paper--copy or notebook (2/student)
- 8.5" x 11" card stock (3-hole punch)
- Glue, colored pencils or crayons, scissors
- Vocabulary Word Organizer (PDF)
- Identify Web sites and collect books on earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis.
- Identify vocabulary words for vocabulary activity.
- Make foldable graphic organizers from the model provided.
- Purchase a large world map with latitude/longitude lines as well as country names.
- Download and duplicate copies of world maps for individual student use.
- Make copies of the Largest Earthquakes in the World Since 1900 (PDF, 68K).
- Plot the largest earthquakes and keep as model.
If colored straight pins are used instead of colored dots, as suggested by some teachers, care should be taken to ensure students are not injured.
What to Do:
- Engage students in the activity by reading aloud The Restless Earth or The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth. Ask students if they or their families have experienced an earthquake, volcanic eruption, and/or tsunami.
- Explain that students will study and plot major earthquakes.
- Explore the FEMA for Kids and other Web sites on earthquakes (see Resources). Model plotting earthquake data using the large map, calling out the latitude and longitude as the intersection point is found, and finally placing a small colored dot on the location according to the Earthquake Magnitude Scale (PDF, 68K).
- Have students work in groups so that they can help each other find the correct coordinates to map the rest of the largest earthquakes.
- Have individual students plot the ten largest earthquakes on 11" x 17" world maps. Have teams of students download earthquake data for the past week and plot the data on the large map. Have teams take turns plotting daily data over a month or longer period of time using the colored dots on the large map. You may also choose to have individual students plot the data on their world map. Have students keep a journal of Internet searches and reflections on what they are learning.
- Explain findings. Once the plates are clearly visible from the plotted data, have students explain what they have learned through illustrations, writing, or PowerPoint presentations.
- Extend students' understanding if time allows. Watch "Ring of Fire," organize a relief drive for earthquake victims, invite a geologist to speak, plot volcano locations, or plot additional earthquake data.
Evaluate (Outcomes to look for):
- Student participation and engagement
- Research and answers that reflect an understanding of earthquakes, where they occur, how they are measured, and how they affect people
- Ability to record and interpret data, and use that data to plot locations on a map
- Learning logs or journals that reflect students' ability to summarize what they have learned
Click this link to see additional learning goals, grade-level benchmarks, and standards covered in this lesson.
Learn More:Learn more about the 5Es.