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Are We On Solid Ground?

Scenario

Summary
Student Pages
Rubric
Index of Projects
Teacher Resources

 

Classroom Teacher Perspective       Science Specialist Perspective       Technology Instructor Perspective

 

 

Classroom Teacher Perspective

Background/Context

This project is being developed to correlate with the S.C. Earth Physics Project, which places a digital seismograph in the school. The project will be used in the spring of 2002 with Earth Science (grade 8), Physical Science (grade 9) and Physics (grade 12) classes. The length of the unit will be from two to four weeks and will incorporate S.C. Science Standards (inquiry, earth and physical science). Three main goals of this project are to (1) study the causes and effects of earthquakes, (2) determine what role (if any) can they, the student, have towards earthquake prediction, and (3) analyze how well their community is prepared for the aftermath of an earthquake. Using an engaged learning approach, students will use technology to obtain knowledge, collaborate with experts, and produce a public awareness product (of their choice) on earthquake preparedness.

Beginning/Getting Started

The project will be introduced in preparation for Earthquake Awareness Week - April 9-15. After viewing a presentation by an earthquake survivor and pictures of earthquake destruction on web pages, there will be a discussion of the Charleston earthquake of 1886 and the fault line that runs 10 miles away. This would lead into our participation in SCEPP and the use of data collected from the school seismograph. Students will be asked to help prepare our community for an earthquake by developing a public awareness product that will help lessen the aftermath of such an event. To assess prior technical knowledge, students will be asked to complete a checklist of skills they have mastered. Earthquake knowledge will be based on a pre-test. To begin the project, students will be randomly placed in small groups to brainstorm a list of questions to ask earthquake survivors and possible types of format for the public awareness product. Each small group will then make an oral report to the class with their questions and product format. After lists of questions are generated, students will contact survivors by e-mail interview or chat. Student grouping (for product) will be based on the type of earthquake preparedness format they wish to complete (pamphlet, web page, video, PowerPoint etc). No more than four students will be assigned per group.

Middle/In Progress

During the first half of project, students will work in small groups to obtain earthquake knowledge, locate information for earthquake preparedness (including preventative measures that will limit the destruction), and examine international seismic data. This will occur through the use of the Internet, text and reference books, newspapers, periodicals, videos, laser discs, and classroom activities. Students will also communicate with earthquake experts to determine what role they, the student, can play in the science of earthquake prediction. All students will be required to keep a journal of their findings/work. At least every other day, one member from each group will e-mail a summary (in a pre-designed outline form) of their group's findings to the teacher. The reporter of this summary will rotate within members of the group. After the first week, each group will present (on a rotating basis) an oral presentation of their group's finding to the entire class. Each member will be required to give part of the oral presentation. All students will also be required to complete Internet activities that will create a certificate upon successful completion. The teacher will be monitoring student direction each day by listening to group discussions, asking leading questions, providing activities to reinforce knowledge, examining journal entries, and providing feedback of outlines that will lead each group to their culminating product. The teacher may also ask one group (or student) that is excelling to help another group (or student) that is struggling with parts of the overall project.

End/Culmination

The last half of the project will be the production of the group's public awareness product. Groups will be mentored with instructors knowledgeable with the type of format chosen. Groups will decide how best to present their project to the community in which they live as well as to those outside their community. Although the public awareness project is the culminating event, students will continue to monitor seismic data periodically and continue to work with experts in any ongoing projects. Final student assessment will include a post-test.
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Science Specialist Perspective

Background/Context

This earthquake project has been designed for High School students at Branchville High School. Branchville High School is a rural community located in South Carolina. This project works with the SC Earth Physics Project, which has placed a digital seismograph in Branchville High School. The unit will take approximately two to four weeks to complete, but the students will continue to analyze the data over a longer period of time. The project will incorporate the SC Science Standards in Earth Science, specifically earthquakes. Students will work to create a product that will educate others on earthquake preparedness using all that they learn in this exercise.

Theresa Owens, Science Specialist, will assist Starr in her planning and implementation of the project.

Beginning/Getting Started

During Earthquake awareness week (April 9-15) a speaker comes in and describes her experiences in an earthquake that has recently occurred. This leads into a discussion of earthquakes - personal experiences of the students, their friends, and relatives. The teacher brings up the devastating earthquake that occurred in Charleston in 1886, and the fact that there is a fault line just ten miles away from the school. The teacher then explains that the school is part of the SC Earth Physics Project and that there is a seismograph in their school. The teacher shares recent news articles with the class in which scientists are predicting that there will be another earthquake in SC sometime soon. Students will then be asked to develop a public awareness product that will educate the community so that if such an event were to occur the effects would be minimal. To assess prior knowledge and degree of technical proficiency, the teacher will administer a pretest. Student brainstorm ways in which they can educate the public on earthquake preparedness. Student ideas include brochures, websites, TV public service announcements. Students are grouped by their product interest, but no more than four students in a group. As a class, students brainstorm a list of people they would like to contact. This list includes survivors, other classes involved in SCEPP, builders, governmental officials, organizations such as FEMA, and scientists.

Middle/In Progress

Student groups brainstorm lists of questions they have for each of the groups they will be in contact with. Students identify those that they will be communicating with, and places websites, etc.) from which to gain other information. Students are trained in the use of the seismograph and the role they will play in helping the SCEPP scientists. Students are excited about their research and their role in earthquake research. During the day, students must take turns on the computers. Some students use email and chat software to communicate with survivors to gain an understanding of the emotional and materialistic toll of an earthquake, builders regarding building codes, earthquake researchers about data analysis, and other classes about the data they are collecting. Other students are at their desks looking at seismograph data, others are looking at maps showing plate boundaries. Some students are processing the information they have printed out from their web chats and email. Still other groups are discussing their progress (as they do regularly) with the teacher. One student tells the teacher that she has not heard from the FEMA representative. The teacher asks if she has visited their website. The student responded that she has collected information from there, but has some specific questions. The teacher asks the student to suggest other methods she could try in order to reach the representative. The student states that she could try to call her directly. Other obstacles are discussed and explored, and the students leave the session re-energized to continue with their research. The teacher is facilitating the work of the students, checking their progress, asking leading questions that will help to guide them. The teacher also works with groups to address their email summaries. Student groups regularly email the teacher with an update of their work. Theresa Owens frequently stops by to help facilitate the students' work; today she is working with the group editing their video presentation. Students are also journaling their activities, and every week the teacher looks them over, and makes comments where appropriate. For instance, one student has written that she is having trouble using the software the group has chosen for their webpage. The teacher suggests that the student go the project page that has links to tutorials pertinent to her software. The teacher also keeps in mind the name of another student who has a superior understanding of the software program in case additional help is necessary. Students with similar products in mind also meet regularly to discuss obstacles and triumphs they are having during development.

End/Culmination

At the end of the project ends, the students design their public awareness products and present them to the class. The groups that have developed brochures discuss how best to disseminate them. Another group posts their final version of their web site and asks FEMA to add a link to it. The group that developed a video is in talks with a local TV station regarding a public service presentation. Students will be assessed in a variety of ways, including the quality of their product, their understanding of how the issue relates to their lives, and how research is helping to increase the effectiveness of earthquake predictions. The Science Specialist observes the final presentations and assists the teacher with their assessment. Students will continue to analyze earthquake data and work with scientists to further their research.
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Technology Instructor Perspective

Background/Context

This is a recertification class for high school science teachers learning how to duplicate the lesson "Are We on Solid Ground" for their 9 - 12 grade students. The curriculum areas are High School Earth Science, Physical Science and Physics and the subject is Earthquakes. The length of delivery for the teachers to their students is 4 weeks, 3 hours per week.  The length of the class for the teachers to learn the skills necessary to teach this unit is 45 contact hours for recertification.

Beginning/Getting Started

This project is for 9-12 science teachers to use with their students during Earthquake Awareness Week which is during the month of April.  The project is introduced to the teachers to show them creative ways to integrate technology into their classroom with their students and to offer technology support for them in using this project.  To test the prior knowledge of the teachers on earthquakes and technology, the teacher uses a graphic organizer and the KWHL technique to hold a group discussion on earthquakes.  The technology skills of the teachers are assessed by a technology pre-assessment known as the Mankato Scale. The teacher discusses some of the devastating earthquakes from around the country and the fact that their are two fault lines in South Carolina.  Also, a discussion begins on the earthquake in Charleston in 1886.  The teachers are the students in this case, so they will be expected to create the projects and finish the lessons just as if they were the students in their classes.  (From here, the teachers will be referred to as the students)  The teacher explains that the project will be to create public awareness projects for the community which include: a pamphlet, web page, and video segment.  The students are grouped according to their project interest.  There will be no more than four students in a group.  The groups will also tried to be grouped based on the technology levels of the students.  For example, a novice user will be with a student possessing technological skills. The teacher then shows the students web sites on earthquakes and list of resources for the students to begin their work.

Middle/In Progress

The students brainstorm questions as a class in which they would like to ask the earthquake experts.  The students begin to work as a group to compile the information that they have found on earthquakes.  Based upon the Mankato assessment of the technological skills, the teacher realizes that as a class that creating pamphlets, creating a web page, and successful searching of the internet are topics which need to be addressed.  The teacher trains the students for two hours in the beginning of the day on skills that are necessary to complete their projects.  The class is then divided into their groups for more research.  The teacher is constantly working with individual groups addressing concerns such as not able to find information, skill questions, and the e-mail responses from the experts.  Describe the typical activities students and teachers are doing. The students are using web resources, e-mail to contact experts, word processing program to create pamphlet, web page design program for web page creation.  The teacher is facilitating the work, checking the progress of each group and addressing questions that the groups have.  The students keep a daily journal of the progress made and any problems/concerns that need to be addressed.  These journals are reviewed daily by the teacher.

End/Culmination

At the end of the project, the students will share their public awareness projects that they have created with the class.  The students will create a teacher resource book as well for all participants of the class.  These projects are graded according to a rubric that the students designed in the class.  A class roster is created as a resource so others will be there as support when a teacher actually begins this project with her high school students.  The class determines a follow-up date in which to meet after they have implemented this project in their classroom to come back and share what worked well and what areas need improvement.  The projects that their high school students create will be the projects shared with the local community.
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Created for the Fermilab LInC program sponsored by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Education Office and Friends of Fermilab, and funded by United States Department of Energy, Illinois State Board of Education, North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium which is operated by North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), and the National Science Foundation.

Author(s): Starr Bright, Theresa Owens, Lu Anne Smith
School: Branchville High School, Orangeburg, SC
Created: March 21, 2001 - Updated: April 10, 2001
URL: http://www-ed.fnal.gov/lincon/w01/projects/earthquakes/scenario.html