Earthquakes Living Lab: Finding Epicenters and Measuring Magnitudes

Pairs use an online simulation to determine the epicenter and magnitude of an earthquake. Using real data about the earthquake's maximum S wave amplitudes, they then determine the magnitude. The resource provides a great career connection by urging pupils to reflect upon the experience and how it effects engineering.

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Instructional Ideas

  • Invite a seismologist to visit the class to explain the process they use to determine the distance to an earthquake
  • Work with the math teacher and use the formulas to do the actual calculations instead of using the computer to do the calculations
Classroom Considerations

  • Needs Internet-connected computers for half the class

  • The answer document contains sample answers 
  • The simulation steps through the process and brings the user back to the beginning if there is an error

  • The aligned NGSS is a middle school standard