Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Whole Lot of Shaking Going On?

This week we have a guest columnist, Terry Smithson the Director of Marketing for JES & Co., covering the topic of earthquakes. Peggy will be back in a few weeks.

On October 17, 1989 at 5:04 P.M., I was in the upper deck at Candlestick Park in San Francisco for game 5 of the World Series. I had a childhood friend that was visiting from North Carolina and had never seen a professional baseball game. Needless to say, he did not see this one either. The game was postponed due to a 7.1 magnitude earthquake centered on the San Andreas Fault in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Loma Prieta Peak which is about 50 miles south of San Francisco. This quake only lasted between 10-15 seconds. To put it in perspective, the recent quake in Japan lasted for just over 2 minutes.

In college, geology was one of my favorite classes. I really enjoyed learning about the different ways in which the earth can change and move, as well as the reasons behind these changes. The world is truly an amazing place, and nature's effects, such as earthquakes, leave students with many questions. Why, for example, does the ground shake during an earthquake? Why does the earth shake more in places like Japan, and less often in places like Kansas? Why are there lots of smaller earthquakes, or aftershocks, after a large earthquake? Once students start asking questions such as these about earthquakes, the floodgates are likely to open, paving the way for additional questions about this mysterious and powerful event.

Here are some really fun activity driven resources focused on answering these questions and many more.
Musical Plates
Grade: 6-12
Earthquakes, a scientific and physical phenomenon, affect our lives in many ways. In this project, students use Real-Time earthquake and volcano data from the Internet to explore the relationship between earthquakes, plate tectonics, and volcanoes. This resource also has many links including links to seismicity maps for each state. This resource is from the Center for Improved Engineering & Science Education.

What’s Shaking?
Grade: 6
This lesson is a mini-unit on earthquakes. Students will watch videos, complete drawings and diagrams, and work in collaborative groups as they investigate such things as faults and the causes and effects of earthquakes. Students will also learn about seismic waves and how earthquakes are measured. There are also suggestions to extend the lesson as well. This resource is from the Alabama Learning Exchange.

Grade: 3-12
What are earthquakes? Why do they occur? and Why can't we predict them? Although we still can't predict when an earthquake will happen, we have learned much about earthquakes as well as the Earth itself from studying them. We have learned how to pinpoint the locations of earthquakes, how to accurately measure their sizes, and how to build flexible structures that can withstand the strong shaking produced by earthquakes and protect our loved ones. The homepage of this resource has some really fun links as an exhibit map. This is how you navigate through the resource. This resource is from the Tech Museum of Innovation.

Earthquakes: A Whole Lot of Quakin’ Goin’ On
Grade: 9-12
In this activity, students will delve into seismology, the study of earthquakes, learning about and contrasting two scales used by seismologists to categorize and compare these quaking forces of nature. Students will review firsthand accounts from people who experienced an earthquake, then employ one of these scales to categorize and map the earthquake's intensity. This resource is from National Geographic and includes related links and suggestions for extending the lesson.

These are just a few of the many resources available on The Gateway involving the study of earthquakes. Joann has chosen many more resources to feature throughout the week on Facebook and Twitter, so please join us there to learn more!

~Peggy's Corner (by Terry Smithson) - 4/1/2011~

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