Classroom activities

Background science

What is an earthquake? Movement of faults and boundaries using foam blocks

Using pieces of foam or card you can model the movement of tectonic plates in different kinds of faults and boundaries.

Understanding seismic wavesUnderstanding seismic waves

You can use a box and several wire helixes ('slinkies') attached to it with bulldog clips to show how an earthquake generates P- and S-waves.

Detecting vibrationsDetecting vibrations

This activity shows you one way to detect vibrations and display them on a computer screen.

How do seismologists locate an earthquake?How do seismologists locate an earthquake?

This activity uses two microphones to represent two seismic monitoring stations.

What does a seismogram show?What does a seismogram show?

Identifying the parts of a seismogram; P-waves, S-waves and surface waves.

The Kent, April 2007 earthquakeIdentifying features of a seismogram

Students can identify some features on real seismograms or differences in arrival times of P- and S-waves at different stations.

How earthquakes affect buildings How earthquakes affect buildings

Some buildings may remain intact, while others are severely damaged by the same earthquake. How does building structure affect the way it behaves in an earthquake?

Looking at data from several stationsLooking at data from several stations

Analysing data from several stations, which are at different distances from the source.

Earthquake triangulation Locating earthquakes in volcanoes

Using data from a recent volcanic eruption, students can do an earthquake location exercise using real data.

Modelling an earthquakeModelling an earthquake

Students use a brick and sandpaper to model the characteristics of earthquakes.

Designing a seismometerTeachers' notes

Supporting information for these activities.

Seismometer design and programming

Designing a seismometerDesigning a seismometer

You are going to use what you learned from detecting vibrations to make a more robust and realistic model seismometer.

RaspberryPi seismometerProgramming a RaspberryPi seismometer

Program a Raspberry Pi in Python to collect and log data from a simple seismometer via an analogue to digital converter.

RaspberryPi seismometerProgramming a simple seismometer with Scratch

How to program a seismometer using Scratch with a simple Python script.