Real Time Earthquake Data Mapping Activity

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Image Source: USGS

Essential Questions:

  • Where do earthquakes occur?
  • How are earthquakes recorded and measured?
  • What is the relationship between earthquake location and magnitude?
  • How do earthquakes impact humans and the environment?

Materials:

  • Internet Access & USGS Earthquake Data
    • this link is set to the following settings: 30 days, 2.5+ magnitude, terrain, and no plate boundaries
  • Google Sheets Template – one per table top map
    • Earthquake Data Mapping Activity (Public Template)
      • to edit this spreadsheet, make a copy for each map, then share editing rights with each group of students who will be working on that map
        • if you don’t use Google Drive, you can download the Google Sheet as an Excel spreadsheet
      • ex: Map A data is shared with 4 students from period 1, 4 students from period 2, 4 students from period 3, 4 students from period 4, and 4 students from period 5. When done, they will have 200 EQs plotted and color coded on the table top map.
  • Colored pencils or markers per map
  • 1 Table sized map per lab group (3-6 students) – printed and assembled
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Sampling of student data from different regions of the world

Procedures:

  1. Assemble one table map and materials per lab group.
  2. Show students how to use and navigate the USGS website, find EQ data, and how to record their data on the Google Spreadsheets.
  3. Assign each group a map and 1-2 regions of the world. They will collect 25 data points for each region. They can choose any EQs over a magnitude of 3.0 for their region(s).
  4. Once they have all of their data, they will plot the EQs onto the table map. The magnitude of the EQ is the color they will plot onto the map.
    1. ex. Magnitude of 7.5 will be a purple dot
  5. Students will analyze their data and look for patterns
    1. What regions of the world have EQs?
    2. What regions of the world had more EQs? Less?
    3. What regions of the world had lower magnitude EQs? Higher?
    4. Why are EQs located where they are?
    5. etc…
  6. After this activity, I introduced Plate Tectonics and we discussed the relationship between EQs and tectonic plates.

 

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Hurricane Season: Lessons & Resources

Image Source: NOAA Current Hurricane Activity

Updated August 2016

We are heading into Peak Hurricane Season, with forecasts predicting 12-17 named storms. Using the resources below, students can track Tropical Storms and Hurricanes, as well as learn about how hurricanes form, the parts of a hurricane, the difference between a tropical storm and a hurricane, and the intensities of hurricanes with this mini-unit from my Adopt-a-City Weather Unit (link).

Hurricane Resources:

  • Hurricane Notes (pdf) –
    • How are hurricanes named?
    • Which storm was more destructive, Katrina or Sandy?
  • Tracking Hurricanes (Google spreadsheets)
    • Choose any one Hurricane and plot it on the NOAA/NWS Atlantic Basin Hurricane Tracking Chart (pdf)
  • Practice latitude and longitude: plotting hurricanes worksheet (pdf)
  • Hurricane Isabel 2003: tracking and analysis of Hurricane Isabel (pdf)
  • BrainPOP Hurricanes Video (link) & Activity Sheets (link)
    • this website needs a subscription to view video and activity

View Current Activity using WunderMap: https://www.wunderground.com/wundermap/

  1. Layers: Click on Tropical – deselect any other layers to make map less cluttered for now
  2. Check the box next to Hurricanes/Typhoons to view activity for the US
    • The Legendtab will show Hurricane categories
    • There may not be any activity today
  3. Check the box next to Sea Surface Temperature to view ocean temperatures

Interactive Activities

  • Create-a-Cane (link)
  • Aim a Hurricane (link)
  • Hurricane Tracker (link)
  • How Hurricanes Form (link)
  • NatGeo – Forces of Nature (link)
  • Saffir-Simpson Scale (link) – What happens when a hurricane hits?

Additional Resources:

  • Hurricane Names (link)
  • NOAA/NWS Historical Hurricane Data (link) – Data for every Hurricanes, including maps
  • Weather Underground Hurricane Archive (link)
  • NOAA/NWS National Hurricane Center (link)

Make Your Own Planisphere (Star Wheel)

Planisphere Supplies
Planisphere Supplies

I have my 6th graders make and decorate their own planispheres for our astronomy unit. It is a quick and inexpensive way to provide planispheres for all of your students, and you don’t have to worry about running out or ordering ahead/enough for each class. When it comes time to lining up the Star Wheel and inserting the brass brad, I do that part for the students so that it lines up correctly. Students will come up to my desk when they are ready and I assembly it for them pretty quickly.

Materials:

  • Manilla folder
  • Scissors
  • Brass brad
  • Glue stick
  • Star Wheel Holder (pdf)
    • Additional Star Holders & Wheels (link)
  • Star Wheel – laminated
  • Metal Math Compass

Directions:

  1. Fold the template along the (horizontal) dotted line
  2. Glue the template to the manilla folder
    • the folded template wraps around the folded edge of the folder
  3. Cut out the shape of the template
  4. Cut out the window – be careful not to cut both layers
    • I use the toilet seat and toilet lid analogy 😉
  5. Cut out the star wheel
  6. Insert the star wheel into the star wheel holder
  7. Find Polaris
  8. Center the Star Wheel, and with the pointed end of the compass, make a hole through Polaris and the back of the manilla folder
    • Be sure that the wheel can spin freely
  9. Insert metal brad & fasten
  10. Enjoy your new planisphere!

wpid-2015-05-06-11.22.31.jpg.jpegwpid-2015-05-06-11.24.32.jpg.jpeg

 

Additional Resources:

  • Using a planisphere worksheet (pdf)
  • How to use a planisphere (video)

 

Adopt A City: Wind & Air Pressure

Adopt a City

Task  10 – Wind & Air Pressure (Updated)

  1. Record today’s Weather, yesterday’s Hi/Lo/Precipitation, & Astronomy Data (link) (excel).
  2. On your mini-map (pdf)
    • record the WSM and add it to the classroom map of the USA (pdf)
    • color in the precipitation
    • draw the fronts (using blue and red dotted lines), along with H and L, for today (link)
      • go to the WunderMap, click “U.S. Fronts” and “Weather Stations” (link)
      • What do you notice about the temperatures on either side of the fronts and the location of the precipitation?

A) Wind & Air Pressure

  1. Use the following resources to learn about wind and air pressure to complete your worksheet (pdf)
    1. BrainPOP – Wind (link)
    2. Study Jams -Air Pressure & Wind (link)
    3. Pages 53-59 in your Weather Guide about Wind
    4.  Pages 124-125 in your Weather Guide about the Beaufort Wind Scale
    5. Pages 60-67 in your Weather Guide about High and Low Pressure

B) Bernoulli’s Principle – try it out!

  1. Bernoulli’s Principle (link): complete 3 of the activities posted (I will supply the materials) and write 3-5 sentences for each activity using google doc or lined paper describing what you did and what you learned by doing each activity.
  2. How does wind and air pressure allow us to fly? BrainPOP Flight Movie (link)

NatGeo Map Maker – free maps to use in your classroom

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Download and Print Maps for Free

NatGeo has a wonderful website that allows you to select any US state, foreign country, continent, or geographic region and download/print maps for free.

How can you use maps in the science classroom?

  • Earthquakes – assign each student a region and plot real-time Earthquake data
  • Tornadoes – select a state and research tornado activity
  • Hurricanes – track current hurricanes or research historic hurricanes
  • Mining – where are coal mines located? salt mines?
  • Weather – plot current weather, fronts, isotherms, etc.
  • Biomes – color in the biomes for your selected state or country
  • Animal habitats – where do animals make their homes?
  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map – what zones are in your state? what types of plants can grow there?
  • Rainfall maps – does the amount of rainfall differ across your state?

NatGeo – Map Maker (link)

Drawing Isotherms

NOAA_map_1-27-15

Looking at today’s weather map inspired me to dig out a lesson on reading and drawing isotherms. I haven’t taught weather in a very long time, but plan to in the spring, and was happy to see that this interactive website was still up and running (link) after all this time.

I really like this interactive tutorial for drawing isotherms because after a student has drawn their line, they can immediately check their work by comparing the line they drew to the line drawn by the computer. They have instant feedback and make adjustments if needed. Then they draw the correct line on their worksheet and try the next one using what they just learned.

After students are done with the online tutorial, they can try creating their own lines on a map of the USA for additional practice.