Objective: To introduce the topic of seismic waves produced by earthquakes.
Standards: Structure of the Earth System (plate tectonics and its relation to earthquakes), Transfer of Energy (energy types, characteristics, and transfer properties), and Interaction of Energy and Matter (waves have energy and can transfer energy when they interact with matter).
Materials: Pieces of cardboard and a large boulder or heavy, old bowling ball
(1) Place the piece(s) of cardboard on the floor of your classroom.
(2) Pick some students to go to different corners of the classroom, out in the hall and perhaps down the hall.
(3) Tell the remaining students in the class to place their hands flat on their desks, feet firmly on the floor, and to be very quiet and still.
(4) Drop the boulder or heavy ball onto the cardboard while standing on top of a chair or desk.
***Make sure that you have permission to perform this demo from the custodians, principal, and teachers that may have classrooms below you before proceeding with it***
Science Behind It: The resulting vibrations felt from the “earthquake” are analogous to seismic waves. Discuss what the students felt, who felt it stronger, how far away it could be felt, etc. This is a great eye opening and attention grabbing demo to introduce the topic of seismic waves and their properties with your class.