To begin the lesson we review our notes and what we previously learned about earthquakes. I include in the discussion our learning on legends to explain natural phenomenon. When conducting a review discussion I try to stay out of the conversation and let the students call on each other to keep the review going. This takes practice over time and my role then turns into a facilitator.
In a previous lesson we discussed plate tectonics and it is important for students to understand how this works. Learning the new concepts of epicenter and the energy released is centered around students understanding plate movement. Students will need iPads to continue their learning and understanding.To review, I ask students to look at the article on plates from Geography4kids.com. We review this and then I have the students navigate to the page on earthquakes. Here students will read about the epicenter and gives us our background knowledge.
As students pass in their iPads, I give them a a small cup. Once I have collected them all, walk around and fill their cups about half full using a pitcher. I have another student hand out a straw to each student too. I do have to tell them to not use the straw to drink their water, or they will not have water to conduct their experiment.
I explain to the class that we will be using the straw as a water dropper. Students will need to hold their finger on the end of the straw to trap water inside. They will then drop one drop onto their cup of water to create ripples. Students will practice dropping water drops into their cups. When it appears that students have a handle on making droplets, we can conduct our observations.
Students will need to wait for their water to be still, before dropping a drop into the water. Once they do start they need to write observation notes into their science journals. They can conduct their experiments as many times as needed in order to get all the notes. I do tell the class to pay attention to the initial droplet and the ripples it makes.
Diagrams that depict what they are seeing would be most helpful. I ask students to draw and label the cup but to do so using the words epicenter and surface waves. I also ask them to tell how the ripples that are created in the water are similar to those we have learned about in earthquakes.
As the conclusion to the activity, I discuss with students the energy that is released from the focus and epicenter. We then discuss the result of this energy is what determines the magnitude of the quake.