Earthquake Seismograms

Yellow hat (Teachers as Teachers)

I had an extensive CSCS activity planned with quickwrites and forms. BUT, many of you have few computers in your class. I decided to scale it down and show you how we can do CSCS with just 1 computer in the class! The key components are:

Blue hat
(Teachers as learners -- actually "doing" the activity")

Step 1: Think about these questions related to earthquakes.
  • How many seismic recording stations does it take to determine an earthquake's epicenter?
  • What is an earthquake's epicenter? What happens there?
  • What factors affect how strong an earthquake feels to you?

Step 2: Look at your team's assigned seismogram.
What time did the peak shaking occur? How fast was the ground moving at that time? Read the seismogram graphs and report the information in the spreadsheet.
Step 3: Try to estimate the earthquake's epicenter from the class data
Look at the "Map one color" graph on the spreadsheet and try to use the information to estimate the earthquake epicenter.
  • Write the latitude and longitude of your team's estimate in the grey area at the bottom of the data entry sheet.
  • Explain your reasoning in the two boxes beside the location estimate
Step 4: What factors affect how strong the shaking feels at a particular place?
  • Does the distance away from an earthquake affect how strong the shaking feels?
  • Is it the MOST important factor?
  • What other factors might there be?

Yellow hat (Teachers as Teachers)

Step 1: Think about your experience as learners
How did the computer help us?
What was the nature of the collaboration in this activity?
What were the skills you used to interpret these graphs?
Shouldn't the students learn how to create the graphs themselves? (See my blog post on the pedagogy of graphing).

Step 2: Now, create a spreadsheet from scratch that looks like mine.
  • It should have the same column headings as mine.
  • Skip the color coding at first.
  • Instead of all the fancy mapping features, just create one simple graph of PEAK SHAKING VELOCITY versus TIME OF PEAK SHAKING.
  • Copy the data from our class sheet into your own spreadsheet so that you have data!

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Matthew d'Alessio,
Jul 10, 2012, 10:25 PM