A Model of Three Faults

A Model of Three Faults Activity Source: Adapted from the USGS Learning Web Lesson Plans Background One of the most frightening and destructive phenomena of nature is a severe earthquake and its terrible aftereffects. An earthquake is a sudden movement of the Earth, caused by the abrupt release of strain that has accumulated over a long time. For hundreds of millions of years, the forces of plate tectonics have shaped the Earth as the huge plates that form the Earth’s surface slowly move over, under and past each other. [Read More]

Burning Issues

Burning Issues Activity Source: The Canadian Forestry Association Learning Outcomes Students will become familiar with fire terminology, realize how fire can be used as a management tool, and better understand the factors that need to be considered when planning a prescribed burn. Summary In this activity the students will form opinions around fire management issues. They will then work in small groups to get more information around the issues and make a more informed decision. [Read More]

Cracked Plates & Tectonics

Cracked Plates & Tectonics Activity Source: Adapted with permission by Esri. In this activity, you’ll investigate dynamics in Earth’s crust that explain multiple Earth science phenomena. For the full activity, go to http://esriurl.com/ESW2016. Materials A computer/projector with internet connection Take these “tech tips.” Measure: At the top of the map, click the Measure button. Hover and click the Distance button. Click continuously along what you want to measure. Double-click to finish. [Read More]

Disaster Supplies Kit

Disaster Supplies Kit Activity Source: Adapted from the FEMA/American Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Coloring Book Background Following a natural hazard, basic services – electricity, water, gas, telephones – may be cut off for days. Or, you may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice. You probably won’t have time to shop or search for the supplies you’ll need. Gather the supplies you’ll need to deal with the situation now, before a natural hazard happens. [Read More]

Earthquake Machine

Earthquake Machine Activity Source: Incorporated Research Institutions in Seismology, 2005. Adapted with permission. Materials: 1 - One foot piece of 2x4 scrap wood 1 - 4"x36" Sanding Belt, 50 Grit 1 - 1/3 Sheet of Sandpaper, 60 Grit 2 - Screw Eye 12x1-3/16 1 - Bag of Rubber bands, varying size 16 in of Duct Tape 2 - Cloth measuring tapes with both English and metric markings 1 - Manila Folder Saw Needle Nose Pliers Scissors Glue (White or Contact Cement) Pencil Procedure: Using the tape measure and pencil, divide the one-foot length of 2" x 4" into two 4" blocks. [Read More]

Earthquake on the Playground

Earthquake on the Playground Activity Source: Adapted with permission from L.W. Braile and S.J. Braile and the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS). Push away from those paper seismograms and get outside to make your own earthquake waves! You’re going to learn about earthquake location kinesthetically. In the activity below, you will model how earthquake waves travel through the Earth at different speeds. You also will construct and utilize a graph to characterize the relationship between distance and time of travel of seismic waves (a travel-time curve). [Read More]

Exploring Geoheritage From Space

Exploring Geoheritage From Space Activity Source: Adapted with permission by NASA. Great images of geoheritage sites can be found everywhere. But no one holding a camera on Earth can “back away” far enough to get the extraordinary perspective captured by NASA satellites. In celebration of Earth Science Week 2016, NASA’s Earth Observatory has created a special collection of images and articles showcasing geoheritage sites in America’s National Parks. Two such sites are Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming/Montana/Idaho) and Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas). [Read More]


Flood! Activity Source: DiscoverySchool.com Credit: Susan Hurstcalderone, science and resource teacher, Blessed Sacrament School, Washington, D.C. Length of Lesson: Two class periods Objectives: Students will understand the following: Different types of soil have different capacities for retaining rainwater. If the soil in an area will not hold enough rainwater, flooding problems will ensue. Soil can be tested for its water-retaining capacity. Materials: The following materials should be distributed to each group: [Read More]

How Dangerous Are Tsunamis?

How Dangerous Are Tsunamis? Activity Source: Adapted with permission by Geological Society of America. Imagine playing beside the ocean, when suddenly, the water drops. Where the water used to be, there are wriggling fish and ribbons of seaweed. What do you do? You could be seeing the first sign of a tsunami ─ a long wave formed in the ocean when the sea floor moves suddenly. Most tsunamis happen because of large earthquakes on the ocean floor. [Read More]


Liquefaction Activity Source: Adapted with permission by Soil Science Society of America. When it comes to slipping, sliding, and stability in soils, the key word is “liquefaction.” During an event like an earthquake, liquefaction is the process by which saturated soil behaves like a liquid. This can be problematic, as a liquid soil loses structure and can cause buildings to sink, foundations to crack, and soil to slide down slopes all at once. [Read More]