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Lesson Plans

Charting the effects of earthquakes on buildings

In this lesson, students get the opportunity to simulate earthquakes of different magnitudes online and see how they affect buildings that they have constructed. Students will choose the magnitude and location of the earthquake, run the simulation, and then examine the earthquake-proofing construction for their building. They will chart their simulated data in Microsoft Office Excel so that they can develop conclusions based on their findings, and they will write a report on their findings in Microsoft Office Word. This activity works well with students working in groups.

On This Page
Lesson plan information
Teacher guide
Lesson procedure
Materials needed
Lesson extension activities

Lesson plan information

Lesson plan
Item Requirements

School level

Grades 7-8

Grades 9-12

Curriculum areas

Science

Class time

3-4 hours, approx.

Software required

Microsoft Internet Explorer

Microsoft Office Excel

Microsoft Office Word

Materials needed

Template: Earthquake directions (25 KB Microsoft Word file)

Microsoft Excel file Template: Simulating earthquakes (30 KB Microsoft Excel file)

Earthquake simulation tool

Teacher guide

Goals

Students use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity.

Objectives

Students will learn about earthquake-proof construction and research how earthquakes affect buildings.
Students will use an online earthquake simulation tool to collect data on how earthquakes can affect buildings.
Students will communicate their conclusions based on the data they collect.

Lesson procedure

Introduction

Has anyone here ever been in an earthquake? If you have, what was that experience like? How did you feel during it? If you’ve never experienced an earthquake, how do you think you would react to one?

One of the main dangers of earthquakes is the collapse of buildings. Is there is a way to tell if a building can withstand an earthquake? What types of earthquake-proofing construction do you think can help buildings survive? Do you think constructing earthquake-proof buildings is a new idea or has it been practiced for centuries in some cultures?

In this activity, you will work in groups or alone to simulate earthquakes of different magnitudes online and see how they affect buildings that you have constructed.First you will construct a building that you think can survive an earthquake. Then you will choose the location and the magnitude of the earthquake that you will simulate. After the simulation you will examine the earthquake-proofing construction for your building to see how effective it was. You will chart your simulated data in Office Excel so that you can develop conclusions based on your findings and present them in a written report.

Software: Microsoft Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office Excel, Microsoft Office Word
What to do    Create buildings that can withstand earthquakes and simulate earthquakes

1. Use this earthquake simulation Web site to discover where to build and how to construct buildings that have better chances of surviving earthquakes.
2. Keep track of your data in the following Excel template:
Simulating earthquakes.
3. Record your conclusions in a Word document and save it.
4. Use the online earthquake simulation tool to simulate 8-10 different earthquakes. Change the locations of the buildings, the earthquake-proofing building constructions, and the magnitudes of the earthquakes. Make sure you keep track of your data in the Excel spreadsheet so that you can use the data to record your conclusions.
5. Reflect on what you discovered or discuss it with your group. Think about the following:

Did you find that the location of a building makes a difference? If so, how?
Did you notice if certain types of earthquake-proofing construction worked better than others? List the ones that were more successful and less successful.
How much does the size of the earthquake affect the survival of the building?
6. Record your conclusions in a Word document.
7. Add your data from your Excel file to your Word document to support your findings.
8. Save your work.

Conclusion

Assess your students on how well they answered the questions in the main activity section. Their conclusions should address each question and reference the data they collected with the online simulator.
You can also assess how accurately they presented their data.

Materials needed

Template: Earthquake directions (25 KB Microsoft Word file)
Microsoft Excel file Template: Simulating earthquakes (30 KB Microsoft Excel file)
Earthquake simulation tool

Lesson extension activities

Have your students conduct more experiments with the online simulation tool.
Have student combine the class data to obtain more information and formulate more general conclusions..
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