Grade levels: 8-12

Lesson Objective: The Learner Will Be Able To:

1. Describe the main processes involved in earthquakes
2. Identify the causes of earthquakes
3. Understand the technology developed to predict earthquakes.


  • Computers with internet access
  • Plastecine or modelling clay
Lesson Process:

1. Review the previous lesson on plate tectonics. Tell the class that today we are going to build upon that knowledge by looking at some of the common results of plate movements: earthquakes. Brainstorm what students already know about earthquakes, making a scaffolding map on the board. Write “Earthquakes” in the middle, and then have several arms reaching out. Through brainstorming, write “causes” at the end of one arm, “types”, “effects on the natural world”, “effects on the human world” and “prediction of quakes” on the other arms. Organize the students’ ideas under these headings in note form.

2. Distribute the handouts below, instructing students that they will, as yesterday, be conducting research towards their presentation and illustrating key points. Today, however, they will be illustrating key points using modelling clay.

3. Again, ensure that the work being conducted is of high quality, and that students are taking ownership of information, putting ideas into their own words, and not just copying off of a website.

Student Worksheet: Earthquakes

Use the resources available in the classroom and on the internet to complete the following tasks. Ensure that your descriptions are clear, detailed, and written in your own words.

1. In as much detail as possible, describe the causes, effects, magnitudes, and types of earthquakes. Also include the effects of earthquakes on the human and natural worlds. Finish by describing the technologies humans have developed to predict or deal with earthquakes.

2. Define, in as much detail as possible, and in your own words, each of the following terms as they apply to earthquakes.


seismic waves:


tectonic plates:

tectonic earthquakes:


fault plane:




elastic-rebound theory: