Earthquakes: Gradual and Catastrophic Energy Release

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SWBAT analyze the differences in intensity of gradual and catastrophic earthquakes and possible results from them.

Big Idea

Students will build a cup structure and try to simulate with their desks the intensity of an earthquake.

Review Our Reading

10 minutes

To expand our learning we are going to read CLOSELY about earthquakes and how they differ when it comes to the amount of energy that is released. We recently had a an earthquake and students came to school very curious to know more. I ran off an article from the internet for my students to use and to better understand the differences between the magnitude of the earthquakes. 

When I hand out the article, I ask students to read it two times before we talk about. The reading routine begins with them reading the chosen text themselves once, and then the second time to read it and annotate. This includes making margin notes. I know they are ready because the final step is to have them write their first thoughts and connection onto a sticky note or back of the paper. Once I see this, I know they are ready to go on. 


10 minutes

The next step is for me to read the article to the class. I read the text all the way through and then I read it again, but this time I am going to ask questions and try to pinpoint vocabulary that we need to understand. One of the words we discuss is magnitude. We use our context to determine the meaning, it is after this that I introduce the words gradual and catastrophic. I have them create another T-Chart and the words as each side's title. I explain that in order to understand these words, we need to do an experiment. They will be drawing what occurs and writing their own notes once they have decided which model/ experiment goes with each word. 

Observation and Evidence

15 minutes

We are now ready to experiment with our new vocabulary words. The materials are the same for both experiments. They will need about seven plastic cups and their desk. Before we begin, I ask the groups to listen as I read about the differences between gradual (mild) and catastrophic earthquakes. Students will then build a building using their cups. They will then need to work together to shake the desk to show both a mild and catastrophic earthquake. Each group will decide how they will model the two types, once they do so they need to write down how they demonstrated the two in their journals. They can draw the cups and what was the difference between the two.

Discussion to Close

10 minutes

Once the class has written the two experiments into their journals, we will discuss what the groups did and what they learned from the activity. I want the class to lead the discussion and confirm with each other what they did that was similar and what they learned because of it. I would then like them to discuss what they did that was different. To conclude we will discuss the two terms and how they relate to energy and earthquakes.