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Earthquake Safety and Science Activities

Shake things up when you pair one of these hands-on earthquake science activities with safety information for International ShakeOut Day

Photo collage of two earthquake themed science projects

October 17, 2019 is International ShakeOut Day, a day when millions of people will review the recommended 3-step "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" advice for safety during an earthquake.

Earthquake Science Lessons and Activities

In the U.S., you may think of earthquakes mostly in the context of California, Alaska, Hawaii, and other locations along the Pacific coast. But there is a major fault in the midwest, too. To learn more about the New Madrid Seismic Zone, see this article on the Great Midwest Earthquake of 1811.

In reality, earthquakes happen every day, even when they are not strong enough to cause damage. But there is always the risk that seismic activity will be catastrophic. Being informed about earthquake safety steps is important for students everywhere. Just like the fire-safety equivalent of "Stop, Drop, and Roll," having students learn "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" for earthquake scenarios could make a difference in the even of a major earthquake.

(Tip! If you are curious about the frequency of earthquake activity, you can use this map from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to view recent earthquake data from around the world.)

Explore More with Earthquake Activities

Talking about earthquake safety also opens up opportunities to get hands-on learning about earthquake science. These three STEM activities at Science Buddies are great choices for classroom, home, or afterschool explorations focused on earthquakes:

  1. Build an Earthquake-Resistant House: In this NGSS-aligned lesson for grades 6-8, students build model earthquake-resistant buildings and use Google's free Science Journal app to measure movement during a simulated earthquake. (Tip! Learn more about using Science Journal app in the classroom.)
  2. Make Your Own Seismograph: In this hands-on STEM activity, students recycle a box into a model seismograph that can "print out" a graph during simulated shaking. This is a great way for students to better understand how a seismograph works!
  3. Building the Tallest Tower: In this civil engineering project, students explore the relationship between height of a building and earthquake resistance using a homemade earthquake shake table and buildings made out of LEGO® bricks. Using Google's Science Journal app, students can also measure the force of the shaking in the experiment.

STEM in Action!

Watch the videos below to see an overview of these lessons and activities:

Earthquake-Resistant Building Lesson Plan with Google's Science Journal app
How to Make a Seismograph - STEM Activity

Share Your Science Buddies Story!

Have you used a science project, STEM activity, or Lesson Plan from Science Buddies in your class or program? We would love to hear your story! Email us at scibuddy@sciencebuddies.org and tell us how you use Science Buddies with students.


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