Using An Online Interactive Simulation
In this activity students go online to visit a website that features online interactive geology and biology simulations. Virtual Earthquake unlike most websites involves the students in an interactive simulation. Students will learn how to read seismograms and plot earthquake locations and magnitudes. They participate by estimating measurements on screen and imputing data. From their measurements and estimations they will be able to see how earthquake locations and magnitudes are determined. If students make mistakes they are allowed to go back and try again. After completing the simulation a personalized "certificate of completion" can be printed out and kept in the students notebook or turned in for a grade as proof that they successfully completed the assignment.
Virtual Earthquake will show you the recordings of an earthquake's seismic waves detected by intruments far away from the earthquake. The instrument recording the seismic waves is called a seismograph and the recording is a seismogram. The point of origin of an earthquake is called its focus and the point on the earth's surface directly above the focus is the epicenter. You are to locate the epicenter of an earthqauke by making simple measurements on three seismograms that will be sent to you by the Virtual Earthquake program. Additionally, you will be required to determine the Richter Magnitude of that quake from the same recordings. Richter Magnitude is an estimate of the amount of energy released during and earthquake. Upon completion of this activity you will be given the opportunity to receive a personalized Certificate as a "Virtual Seismologist."
In order to get this certificate, you must make careful measurements throughout the activity. The actual certificate is much larger than the one displayed above.
Click on the Execute button below to start the Virtual Earthquake application.
The site students will visit will be virtual earthquake. This is part of a virtual courseware site run by CSULA. If you find this site useful you might also want to try virtual fly lab, virtual river and virtual dating (the radioactive kind). This is just one of several virtual courses. They had a wonderful evolution simulation but it was purchased by a publisher.
- Go to the virtual earthquake web page.
- After reading a brief introduction scroll down and click on the "Execute Virtual Earthquake" button.
- After reading some background information on earthquakes the students will be presented with a choice of areas they would like to have the virtual earthquake occur. Submit your choice and the simulation will begin.
- Students will go through a tutorial on how to read seismograms and are asked toobserve seismograms from 3 different recording stations. They will be asked to measure and estimate the difference in time between the arrival of the P and S waves for the 3 stations.
- Based on their estimates of time, students convert those figures to distancesusing a seismic wave travel time chart.
- Based on the students estimates of distance, the epicenter of the earthquake they selected is generated
- Based on the original seismograms student observe and estimate the amplitude of the largest wave and transfer the information to a nomogram. Based on the nomogram students will estimate the magnitude of the simulated quake.
- Upon successful completion of the program students will be able to print out a personalized certificate of completion. A summary of their results and findings will also be displayed.
Student Discussion Questions:
- What do we call the place in the earth's crust where an earthquake originates?
- What are the 2 main types of earthquake waves? How do they differ?
- What two factors affect the speed at which earthquake waves travel?
- Why is the difference in arrival time between S and P-type waves important to seismologists?
- Explain why reports from 3 seismic stations are needed to determine an earthquakes epicenter. Why are 2 not enough?
- Have students visit many of the real-time seismographs/seismo-cams on the Internet. Many organizations have recorded the seismograms of important past earthquakes which are available to download and printout.
- Have students research the different scales used to measure earthquakes and earthquake damage. How do they work?
- Have students research the history of recording earthquakes. How was this accomplished before the seismograph?
California Science Content Standards
Dynamic Earth Processes
3. Plate tectonics operating over geologic time has changed the patterns of land, sea, and mountains on Earth's suface. As a basis for understanding this concept:
d. Students know why and how earthquakes occur and the scales used to measure their intensity and magnitude.
f. Students know the explanation for the location and properties of volcanoes that are due to hot spots and the explanation for those that are due to subduction.
Investigation and Experimentation
Scientific progress is made by asking meaningful questions and conducting careful investigations. As a basis for understanding this concept and to address the content in the other four strands, students should develop their own questions and perform investigations. Students will:
a. select and use appropriate tools and technology (such as computer-linked probes, spreadsheets, and graphing calculators) to perform tests, collect data, analyze relationships, and display data.
National Education Technology Standards for All Students
3. Technology productivity tools
Students use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity.
Technology research tools
Students use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources.
Students use technology tools to process data and report results.
Students evaluate and select new information resources and technological innovations based on the appropriateness to specific tasks.
Technology problem-solving and decision-making tools
Students use technology resources for solving problems and making informed decisions.
Students employ technology in the development of strategies for solving problems in the real world.
The Integrating Technology into Science Instruction webpages project is partially funded by grants from The Boeing Company and The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation. Integrating Technology into Instruction is a project of Target Science (firstname.lastname@example.org) and is displayed on the Los Angeles Educational Partnership Learning Exchange. Target Science is an initiative of the Los Angeles Educational Partnership.
Updated July 2000