Making Community Connections to Co-learn about Earthquakes

Jennifer Pickering, Alaska Pacific University and Anchorage School District
Author Profile
Initial Publication Date: February 12, 2022 | Reviewed: August 4, 2022


Many people live in regions prone to earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions, but the hazards and risks inherent in our communities may be very different. Making connections with learners from another location is a great way to share knowledge and practice science communication skills. Video conferencing applications like Zoom and Skype make it possible to connect with learners anywhere in the world. This activity provides a simple protocol, and a form for submitting a request to connect with a classroom teacher in the western US.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications



This activity is suitable for formal learning environments such as a classroom in upper elementary through high school grade levels, but would also be adaptable for informal learning environments like science museums and interpretive centers.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Learners should be familiar with plate tectonics, and educators should be familiar with, and have access to, video conferencing applications such as Zoom or Skype.

How the activity is situated in the course

In this sharing protocol, two groups of learners (i.e., two classrooms) connect to share a body of knowledge about their tectonic location. This connection can be made once, or can be an ongoing series. The specific learning targets and location of the experience in the learning sequence(s) of the respective classrooms should be collaboratively decided by the participating educators.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Learners will:

  • Identify similarities and differences between tectonic environments
  • Recognize that awareness of earthquake impacts can help us plan for a safer home, school and/or community
  • Understand that supply chains are interconnected in our global economy

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Will vary, depending on the learning path and activities chosen

Other skills goals for this activity

  • Working in groups
  • Communicating ideas in oral and visual formats

Description and Teaching Materials

See attached file for instructor notes, activity guidelines, and NGSS alignment.
Making Community Connections Activity (Acrobat (PDF) 726kB Feb12 22)

Form to submit to request the facilitation of a connection with another teacher in the western US or Alaska.

Teaching Notes and Tips

Prior to setting up the Zoom/Skype date, connect with the co-facilitating teacher to determine the main learning objectives and design the lesson. Consider the relative ages and experience of the learners: for example, will one class be peer-teaching content to a younger class, or will the lesson be peer-to-peer sharing? Who will be the spokesperson(s) for each class, and how will that be determined?


Use a rubric of your design to evaluate the presentations for both content and delivery, and/or design a followup assignment or paper for learners to submit.