Let's Look Inside the Earth
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
Learner Preconception/Misconception: Students may not know that earthquakes only occur in the thin crustal portion of the Earth. The crust is relatively thin.
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
Scientists use seismic data to visualize crustal structures, faults, and plate boundaries.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
MS-ESS2-3: Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and rocks, continental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence of the past plate motions.
Other skills goals for this activity
Construct an argument from evidence.
Description and Teaching Materials
In this 4-5 day investigation students will analyze USGS seismology data in the classroom using spreadsheets and scatter plots to look for patterns and structure in the Earth's crust. Before analyzing data, students will learn about the methods scientists use to gather seismic data. They will explore plate tectonics, plate boundaries, and volcanoes using Google Earth. The teacher will provide demonstrations on the types of faults and how earthquakes propagate and travel through the earth.
ENGAGE - Seismology study
EXPLORE - Plate boundaries exploration
EXPLAIN - Faults demonstrations
EXPLORE - Spreadsheet-oriented data visualization
ELABORATE - Online USGS Data Visualization
EVALUATE - Students are Assessed
Teaching Notes and Tips
Instructional Clarification: You will want to practice downloading and visualizing a dataset before engaging in the visualization component to this activity. Because the USGS earthquake depth column is a positive number, students will need to modify that data by multiplying that column by (-1), which will invert the data properly.
A) Let's Look Inside the Earth (for spreadsheet)
B) Earthquake Mapping
References and Resources
How to graph USGS earthquake data in Google Sheets: