Seismic Waves - Day 1

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Students will learn about the four different seismic waves.

Big Idea

Students will learn about the propagation of seismic waves and the damage they cause on the surface of the earth.

RAP - Review and Preview

5 minutes

I call students to the gathering area. I tell them we are going to investigate waves that we are very familiar with in Alaska. (Note: If you don’t live in Alaska or an earthquake zone, you may need to talk to students about earthquakes or you can show a YouTube video of one). We are going to talk about Seismic waves that occur during an earthquake.

Guided Investigation

30 minutes

I tell students that earthquakes make four different kinds of waves, each producing different damage. I tell students that in this lesson, we are going to investigate these different waves.

Students move to their desks with their laptops, or into the computer lab, where they investigate what seismic waves are. The website I like to use is What is Seismology. Students take notes while they are learning about seismic waves. These are written in their science notebooks. At the end of this webpage, students should complete the P and S wave experiment, at the end of the page.

After students have done the experiment, I call their attention briefly, and remind them that although there are four different types of waves, they can all be felt and experienced in one earthquake.

I refer students to a second page that has animations of the different types of waves. This Seismic Wave Animation page allows students to see the way the land moves for each of the waves. In order to see the animation, students must click on #4 on the page, “P, S, Rayleigh and Love Waves animations”. On the next page, students must click on the grey boxed diagrams and they will animate. 

Wrap Up

5 minutes

I call students back to the gathering area. I ask them to predict the type of damage each of these wave types will cause. I have them write them down in their science notebooks. I tell students that we will use these predictions in the next lesson as we further investigate seismic waves.