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Earth and Space Science

Earthquake Lab Slinkys

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Hillary Mason Hillary Mason 540 Points

A good activity to do with the kids is to use slinkys to model primary vs secondary waves. You put the slinkys on the ground, stretch them out and model a p wave (push pull) and then s (side to side) waves. Have the students time a cycle of both waves and compare on average which one is faster. Then you can also model surface waves. Kids love it....

Alyce Dalzell Alyce Dalzell 64075 Points

Hi Hillary,
I located an off-site link in NSTA's resources: Putting the Pieces Together, a USGS site.

It has numerous links that students can visit to learn the story of earth's geologic changes and plate activity. I haven't had the opportunity to use with my students, but plan to in the next couple of weeks.


Alyce Dalzell Alyce Dalzell 64075 Points

Hi Hillary,
Kids do love the slinky/earthquake lab! Anything to get them up and moving, I usually end up having a few ask if they can do the 'worm' dance on the floor. Before I was able to afford slinkys I used rope, chains, and once even a dog leash. LOL

Have you had the opportunity to visit the Iris Education website? This USGS site has an active seismic monitor on all world activity! One of Colorado's standards is to plot seismic activity; I have found this site easy for students to navigate.

I recently conducted an advanced search through NSTA's Learning Center and found a wealth of free journal/book chapters along with several off-site links that other members have recommended through posted NSTA collections. I did not have to look any further for engaging, inquiry based activities and the pedagogy that supported me.

Try clicking on the magnifying glass to the right side of the search box (you don't have to type anything into the box!) found at the top of this site's pages. You will be taken to a page where you will click on the words 'Advanced Search' on the left. Complete the search box with the keyword earthquakes, resources 'NSTA Collections'.

Let me know if you find other resources that you like.
Enjoy your week, Alyce

Cheri Alonzo Cheri Alonzo 1995 Points

Hi Alyce, I am going to be starting Earthquakes on Mon. so searched for information. I don't really need to search beyond your post! Thank you for the recommendations you made for sites. I found lots! I love the slinky idea and found a bunch of them in a box that was sent from last years teacher for my line. I also went on the Iris Education Website and loved the brightly colored world map with live time seismic checking. I can't wait to use that in my lesson. My students are very visual learners. Thank you again!

Andrea Medrano Andrea Medrano 1075 Points

We just played with the slinky's on Friday. I used them as a demo for the kids before explaining the wave motion in details. Then as we went deeper into the seismic waves it was easier for them to remember which wave was which by the table they were done on in class. My other classes on Monday will not have that benefit with the sub so it will interest me to see if one group has better comprehension at the end of the unit.

Cheri Alonzo Cheri Alonzo 1995 Points

Hey Andrea! I feel like I am on the right track after reading your post. I also thought about using the slinky's as a demo. I could have volunteers demo. I looked ahead to see how far behind I was, land it looks like I have Tues to do Earthquakes and Thurs. to do Volcanoes. Happy Saturday!

Mrs Hawk Catherine Hawkins 2400 Points

I found such a wealth of information in this Earthquake Lab section of the community forums. I am especially grateful for the detailed information and instruction on how to conduct an advanced search in the NSTA library. I can easily get overwhelmed with all the available resources out there and this explanation really helped me to use that resource more effectively. Thanks for the great ideas on earthquake labs! The slinky is a wonderful way to demonstrate the seismic waves and kids have a great time learning that way!

Alyce Dalzell Alyce Dalzell 64075 Points

Hi ES Friends,
I'm going through lessons and plans on a Sunday evening and completely understand the overwhelming sense of 'keeping up' with district curriculum pacing - while insisting that we follow our beliefs of providing engaging, inquiry based activities for our students!

I agree, NSTA has a wealth of resources that are available free to members - and utilizing the 'Advanced Search' feature simplifies and saves precious time!

I discovered (deep inside NSTA's site) a NSTA Reports Newsletter that links you to several government sites - and the USGS site has an offer of free teaching materials concerning earthquakes, and other natural disasters.

Enjoy! Alyce

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