Paper No. 42
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


TEKVERK, Karen, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Northwestern University, Locy Hall, 1850 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208, VAN DER LEE, Suzan, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Northwestern University, Tech F379, 2145 Sheridan Rd, Evanston, IL 60208 and BOXERMAN, Jonathan Z., Learning Sciences, Northwestern University, 2120 Campus Drive, Annenberg Hall, Evanston, IL 60208,

We designed a brief series of hands-on lesson plans to teach students about earthquakes and seismology in a research facility or university. The plans were designed for an outreach program but can also be used in stand-alone mode.

We first discovered students’ prior knowledge through student interviews, then developed a set of goals for the students’ learning, and created a series of lessons integrating students’ prior understanding with the new knowledge from each goal. The lesson plan is broken into four discrete activities and an assessment. In these lessons, students learn about plate boundaries and tectonics by plotting earthquakes around the world, simulate the ways that waves from earthquakes travel through the Earth, perform jumping experiments and comparisons with seismic records using an actual seismometer, and locate earthquakes on globes using trilateration. The assessment asks students to tie all of their learning together in an activity simulating the work of professional seismologists. We principally implemented this activity at our research facility at Northwestern University for two reasons. First, visiting a research university can provide students with unique insight into the world of scientific research. Second, we felt that it was important to have students interact with an actual seismometer. However, the lesson plan series has also been used successfully in a middle school setting, with a home-made seismometer.

Through this activity, the students gain a sense of the global nature of earthquakes and their effects as well as the role of observation, technology, engineering, and mathematics in earthquake science.