Musical Plates-A Study of earthquakes and Plate Tectonics

Contributor
Greg Bartus, Stevens Institute of Technology
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Curriculum , Instructor Guide/Manual , Informative Text , Map , Model , Project , Simulation , Student Guide , Unit , Assessment Item , Activity
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

 

Musical Plates-A Study of Plate Tectonics is an internet-based multidisciplinary project. Musical Plates - A Study of Plate Tectonics is one of 3 Musical Plates projects found on the k12 science.org” This review is a description of the first project: Musical Plates-A Study of Plate Tectonics, exploring the relationships between real time earthquake, volcano data and plate tectonics by using real time data from the internet.

As you click on the Musical Plates- A study of Plate Tectonics Activity from the K12 Science homepage. The Project Information and Resources are organized as links to the left side of the page. Students  access real time earthquake and volcano data, interact with experts online and publish their own work to a project website if the teacher chooses. If the teacher chooses to use the Engineering Challenges as final projects or an additional activities/assessments, additional hands-on materials will need to be gathered and substantial preparation is needed for this challenge. These engineering materials and handouts are listed in the student activities link under Engineering Challenge: Withstanding Liquefaction.

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • Middle School
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

MS-ETS1-4 Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.

Clarification Statement: none

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
The culminating activity and assessment can be the Engineering Challenge, which will have students studying which substrate will withstand liquefaction by building a model and testing designs. The testing will be iterative. The students will submit a proposal, select materials with cost attached, conduct trials completing a design log as they test and build. The students will improve/ modify the design until it can withstand a 20 second “tremor.” Economics is also a factor in this testing process so keeping the “cost” of their materials needed to build the model as low as possible is important.

MS-ESS2-2 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on how processes change Earth’s surface at time and spatial scales that can be large (such as slow plate motions or the uplift of large mountain ranges) or small (such as rapid landslides or microscopic geochemical reactions), and how many geoscience processes (such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and meteor impacts) usually behave gradually but are punctuated by catastrophic events. Examples of geoscience processes include surface weathering and deposition by the movements of water, ice, and wind. Emphasis is on geoscience processes that shape local geographic features, where appropriate.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
In Musical Plates-A Study of Earthquakes and Plate Tectonics, students use real time data from websites to plot earthquakes and volcanoes on a map. The students will answer questions to make connections to plate boundaries and the study of plate tectonics. They will need to show the relationship of the movement of the tectonic plates over time and understand scale representation of the plate boundaries on a map. The students will construct an explanation based on the data (evidence) they have collected using various websites and archives of past studies of plate tectonics and understandings of related geoscience processes. The student explanations/evidence will be presented through these products and activities: multimedia presentations, brochures or a web pages, writing a letter to the President, interviewing eyewitnesses to earthquakes and presenting in an interview form. The culminating activity and assessment can be an Engineering Challenge which will have students studying which substrate will withstand liquefaction by building and testing building designs.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
The model for testing the substrate is developed and tested based on previous studies about earthquakes. A testing simulation is set up: a mock building is constructed from milk cartons and the substrate from aquarium gravel. This is all placed in a plastic tub with a force struck to the side of the tub representing the earthquake. A carpenter’s level will determine how “unlevel” the mock building became during the simulation. The students can modify their building design based on several trails of the simulation.. They will prepare a final engineering report that reflects the most economical and viable idea for improving the model that works best with the substrate.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
The reliable evidence collected in this activity comes from the real time data from earthquake and volcano websites and the information presented in the resources about the theory of plate tectonics. The students analyze this data to make connections between earthquakes and plate movement. The connections they discover will be delivered as a multimedia presentation, based on their evidence. Including a theory or a law that relates to their research will strengthen the presentations alignment to the science and engineering practice.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The students must keep a design journal as they test each mock building during an earthquake and record improvements needed based on the testing with the different substrates. No model is wrong if it stays within the parameters set forth.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The systems that are focused on in this activity are volcanoes, earthquakes and how they define and cause plate motion. The idea of scales and range would be reinforced on the map plotted with volcano and earthquake data to include volcano and earthquake data from our earliest records, such as the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii in 79 AD. These and other geoscience phenomena interactions such as meteor impacts, the Mid-Atlantic ridge spreading and the formation of ocean trenches will need to be included on the student maps and included in the final student products to show how they in addition to the earthquakes and volcanoes shaped our Earth’s history.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The concept of earth’s processes over time: meteor impacts, mountain building, plate movement related to energy will need to be an added section to the Student Activities and related as geoscience phenomena.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The collection of real time data and the culminating Engineering Challenge address 2 performance expectations and several disciplinary core ideas The students’ collection of data that is evidence for constructing explanations ( performance expectation) is very strong. The activity is a simulation of real world problems and a report is needed from the students acting as geologists. Where are the most recent earthquakes? Is there any way to determine what parts of the world are prone to earthquakes? Is there a relationship between earthquakes and volcanoes? What is causing earthquakes? The engineering activity allows students to build a model (performance expectations) of a building and test it on different substrates for liquefaction. The students get many real life hands-on experiences and engineering design opportunities. The crosscutting concepts: scale, proportion and quantity are related to the plotting earthquake data on a world map and the model built in the engineering design process. These mock building models tested on different substrates during a simulated earthquake relate to systems at various scales and using maps to relate items that are too large or too small.

  • Instructional Supports: Students are given an outline for the final project and the complete details and supplies for the Engineering Challenge and its outcomes are clearly defined. The website has 9 tabs and links for the students to use in sequence. Many resources are listed and linked for the students to use as research. The final product has instructions and submissions shown from other students. Students can choose to upload and display their work on the website.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: No explicit ongoing monitoring or checking for understanding systems are in place. Students have their activities in sequential order and they have specific questions they have to answer as they proceed. The teacher can check off each student or student group as they complete each activity in the section. The final project can be used as an assessment and the Engineering Challenge can also be used as an assessment. No rubrics are provided.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: Students are not interacting with technology. They are using most to gather data not to input or manipulate variables. They are using technology to look at websites to research the answers to specific questions and collecting real time data from the USGS sites, which show active volcanoes and earthquakes.