Earthquakes in Teaching,

Exercises for K-12 Education Using Earthquakes and Seismometers.


*   Background

*   Prerequisites

*   Contact Information

*   Feedback

*   Why use Seismology in Teaching

*   Seismometers available


Background for Earthquakes and Seismometers in Teaching

EAS 4900 “Directed Study, 1-3 credit hours”

EAS 4900 is a learning experience and practice lesson in preparation of teaching exercises. The first part of the course is a review of the basic elements of seismology that are needed to teach the subject in K-12 grades.  Topics covered include: earthquake wave propagation, earthquake damage, seismometer theory, and recording earthquakes.  Many of this is studied by reviewing exercises currently available.  The rest of the course is the preparation and testing of an original teaching exercise.  The exercise is prepared for distribution to teachers through this web site and, where possible, tested in a class environment. 


The course is based in part on a teacher’s “seismometer and earthquake hazards workshop” presented at Georgia Tech.  Students who complete EAS 4900 may wish to stay in contact with the seismology program at Georgia Tech and are eligible for loan of a seismometer to their new school.



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An appropriate introductory EAS course and General Education courses are required. The target student is an undergraduate junior or senior in science preparing for a career in pre-college teaching.


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Contact Information

E-mail address

Information on when EAS 4900 is offered and more details on the content and requirements can be obtained from Dr. Tim Long,


Information on how this course can fit into the secondary (high school) certification program can be obtained from academic advisors in the College of Sciences (


In the future, we may offer again our seismometers in teaching workshop.  Check back to often to see when a workshop may be offered.



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*   These exercises are intended for use in teaching.  Please feel free to use these exercises at any time.  If you have comments based on experience in using them we would like to hear from you.  Your comments will be used to revise and update the exercises from time to time.


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 Why use Seismology in Teaching

1) Earthquakes are exciting news events. Earthquakes provide a periodic reminder of the forces of nature.  The excitement of a major earthquake and its news media coverage can add interest to the students and make them feel involved, particularly if they are also able to record the earthquake.  Hence, the basic element of an attention getting experience allows students to participate in research while learning.  The relevance of studying earthquakes is immediately understood. 

2) Educate public on earthquake hazard mitigation.  Because earthquakes occur infrequently, the public often is unaware of the dangers of an earthquake and poorly educated on what to do in case of an earthquake.  Awareness of earthquake hazard mitigation methods and an understanding of seismology are important elements of protecting the public from damage in an earthquake.  The best way to educate the public is to make earthquakes an integral part of the education process. 

3) Seismology integrates many sciences.    The study of seismology integrates many basic principals of physics, computing and mathematics.  The location of earthquakes worldwide helps bring awareness of geography.  Studies of the principals of seismology are basic to earth science.  Studies of earthquakes damage help bring awareness of building codes and their objectives. 

4) Make seismometers available. By preparing prospective students to teach about earthquakes, the number of teachers capable of managing a seismometer is increased.  A seismometer in the classroom allows the recording of earthquakes in real time.  The station can also contribute to national research by exchanging data with other high schools.



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Seismometers Available

*   Georgia Tech currently has available for short-term loan to high schools three GURALP PEPPV seismometers.  To record real earthquake data on these instruments, the teacher would need a computer, preferably a computer running Windows 95. However, programs are available to operate the GURALP on an older DOS machine.  Contact for availability and requirements of a loan.

*   The IRIS program for seismometers in schools is providing matching funds for seismometers for high schools.  The lower cost instrument they are currently supporting is the AS-1.  An AS-1 is available and will be given to an appropriate Georgia high school or middle school science program in the fall semester of 2001.  To apply for this instrument, request details from  

*   General information on seismometer available for teaching can be found at this site



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Last revised:  August 3, 2001