Earthquake Machine 1 , Defining an Earthquake

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Resource Type:Classroom Activities; Curricula and Instruction
Grade Level:
9 10 11 12
Organization:Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS)
Summary:In this activity, students work collaboratively in small groups to investigate the earthquake cycle using a mechanical model. Students' attention is captured through several short video clips illustrating the awe-inspiring power of ground shaking resulting from earthquakes. To make students' prior knowledge explicit and activate their thinking about the topic of earthquakes, each student develops a definition for an earthquake. Next, small groups of students combine their individual definitions through a collaborative process to create a consensus definition for an earthquake. Using an open-inquiry approach, students then investigate the Earthquake machine model and compare their group's definition of an earthquake to the behavior of the model. Through this inquiry process tudents are asked to map the construct of an earthquake to elements of the mechanical model. A whole-class discussion explores how the model is both like and unlike the actual phenomena of an earthquake and so emphasizes the flow of energy through the system.
Earth Science Big Ideas:Big Idea 1; Big Idea 3
NGSS Discplinary Core Ideas:ESS2.B
NGSS Performance Expectations:HS-ESS2-1
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:Developing and using models
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts:Stability and change
Subjects: 9-12; activities; earth; earthquake; geology; geoscience; high school; lesson; model; natural hazards
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