"Earthquake Machine" Inquiry Unit—Year 6
Our Earth is always in motion and is teeming with life and activity. When nature speaks to us through anomalies such as earthquakes, it is saying to us that it has a cycle all of its own that was in place long before any of us got here. People who have been in earthquakes describe feeling the tremors and seeing loose objects move around. However, what we don’t witness is the ground moving, which can be disorienting.
Students get to shake things up in this lesson when they get together in groups to design and build an idea for a working earthquake simulator. It will allow people to experience the sensation of being in an earthquake. Your group will start by researching what causes earthquakes, and investigate what happens when they occur. Research the accounts of people who have experienced them, and learn about the sensations they describe. Use the information from your research as the basis for your design.
Think about how your invention educates people about what to expect and how to prepare for it. The key to your earthquake machine is that you must design it, so the whole artificial environment has to move, and not just the ground. That way, there is no visual perception of movement, only feeling—just like a real quake. Describe and illustrate all the components of your earthquake machine in your presentation model and how it works to simulate an actual earthquake. Draw a comparison to the characteristics of a real earthquake and the sensations they produce in people. Use this comparison to demonstrate why your creation correctly and effectively simulates an earthquake. Focus on earthquake characteristics such as the shift in plates, direction, magnitude, and their ability to cause waves.
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