Seismic Waves and the Slinky: A Guide for Teachers

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Resource Type:Classroom Activities; Curricula and Instruction
Grade Level:
11 12
Organization:Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS); Purdue University (PU)
Publication Date:2010
Summary:This teaching guide is designed to introduce the concepts of waves and seismic waves that propagate within the Earth, and to provide ideas and suggestions for how to teach about seismic waves. The guide provides information on the types and properties of seismic waves and instructions for using some simple materials , especially the slinky , to effectively demonstrate characteristics of seismic waves and wave propagation. Most of the activities described in the guide are useful both as demonstrations for the teacher and as exploratory activities for students. With several regular metal slinkys, and the modified slinky demonstrations described in this teaching guide, one can involve an entire class in observation of the demonstrations and experimenting with the slinkys in small groups. For activities that involve several people, such as the 5-slinky and human wave demonstrations, it is convenient to repeat the demonstrations with different groups of students so that each person will have the opportunity to observe the demonstration and to participate in it.
Earth Science Big Ideas:Big Idea 1; Big Idea 3; Big Idea 8
NGSS Discplinary Core Ideas:ESS2.B
NGSS Performance Expectations:HS-ESS2-1; HS-ESS2-3
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:Developing and using models
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts:Energy and matter: Flows, cycles, and conservation; Stability and change
Subjects: activities; earthquake; geology; natural hazards; seismology
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