Modeling Earthquake Waves

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Resource Type:Classroom Activities; Curricula and Instruction
Grade Level:
6 7 8 9 10
Organization:American Geophysical Union (AGU); American Geosciences Institute (AGI); Earth Science Week (ESW)
Summary:An earthquake occurs when massive rock layers slide past each other. This motion makes enormous vibrations, which travel from the site of the earthquake in waves. The waves (seismic waves) travel all the way through the Earth. Seismologists can record these waves when they reach Earth's surface using seismographs. Earthquakes generate three kinds of waves: Compressional waves (P waves) travel the fastest. Shear (S) waves travel more slowly than P waves. Surface waves are the slowest of the three. In this activity, students use Slinkys to make waves. These represent waves you'd see in an earthquake. The students can identify different types of waves, as well as discuss what situations you would see them in.
Earth Science Big Ideas:Big Idea 1; Big Idea 4; Big Idea 8
NGSS Discplinary Core Ideas:ESS2.B
NGSS Performance Expectations:MS-ESS2-2; MS-ESS2-3
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts:Patterns; Scale, proportion, and quantity
Subjects: earth science; earth science week; earthquake; energy; geology; rocks; seismology
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