Label: Earthquakes

May 24, 2010

Today we thought we’d share some of the feedback from the In-School testing which is underway on the prototype Teacher Guide for Seymour’s EARTHQUAKES book. This testing is happening in conjunction with the creation of thirty Teacher Guides to be used with his books. They will be available online for free teacher downloads by the time schools resume in the autumn of 2010.

For those interested in the anecdotal highlights of the in-school testing, here is feedback from fellow science writer Jordan Brown, who is collaborating with us on both the writing and testing.

 Highlights of the 3rd grade class testing:


* Kids enjoyed having "Why I Wrote this Book" from Seymour Simon read aloud. One of the teachers shared her story about experiencing an earthquake in Seattle.

* As you might expect, any opportunity for children to share personal stories captured group interest. One boy told about visiting California recently and experiencing his first earthquake.

* The 3rd graders really liked the "Make a Quake" website. We did this online activity several times, changing the variables to see how damaged the building became.

* Many kids were very surprised to learn how frequent earthquakes are.

* They also enjoyed when I passed around the hard-boiled egg with the cracked shell still on (like cracked plates around Earth). Spontaneously, I had all kids press their palms together forcefully, then have one of the hands push upward, so they could imitate the motion of faults sliding passed each other.

* For the building activity, I made the challenge a bit tougher for the third graders. I told students to build a building as tall as they could—but also try to stabilize it. Otherwise, I feared they would just make long, flat structures. All but one of the buildings they made held up when, as a group, we tested them out by shaking a plastic plate beneath each model.

From the Kindergarten Testing:

* Kids loved looking at the dramatic photos when I flipped through the book—but some of the kindergartners got a little scared. I made a point of reassuring them that the chances of a big, dangerous earthquake in our area was very rare.

* Class was fascinated by the map on page 12 (in which every small red dot represents where an EQ has occurred).

* When talking about why scientists can’t predict precisely when an EQ will occur—one child made the comparison to a balloon being blown up. If you keep blowing, eventually it will pop—but you don’t know exactly when.

* Building activity was a big hit - The teacher commented that she really loved watching the groups of children having to work together to figure out a possible solution. When some of the groups had trouble coming up with a self-standing building (I only provided a small number of materials, so they had to think creatively), they got inspiration and ideas by looking at each other’s work.

If you are interested in giving us feedback on this prototype, we would LOVE to hear from you. You can download a free copy of the Teacher Guide for Seymour Simon’s EARTHQUAKES by clicking on this link.


Posted by: Liz Nealon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Earthquakes, Teacher Guides, School Visits, Teachers and Librarians, Earth Science Books   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 2, 2010

Many kids (adults, too) are asking what is happening inside the earth,  with January’s devastating earthquake in Haiti followed so quickly by a near record-breaking quake in Chile over the weekend.

In fact, the two earthquakes happening within a few weeks of each other are a coincidence. Each quake was independent and happened along different fault lines and for a different reason. There should be no particular reason for another earthquake to happen now along a different fault line. That’s not to say that there won’t be many aftershocks along the same fault lines that the Haiti and Chile earthquake happened. There will be many of those. But there is no particular "earthquake time"  happening now. Every moment of the year, someplace on Earth the ground is shaking and we call that an earthquake.

My family sometimes jokes with me that whenever anything happens, I pipe up and say "I’ve written a book about that." At this point in my writing career, it’s nearly true!


Here are some relevant words and definitions from my EARTHQUAKES book.

FAULT:  A crack or break in the earth’s crust. A fault is caused by movement of the rock formations that make up the crust. The San Andreas fault in California stretches for one thousand miles from Mendocino to the Gulf of California. Earthquakes often occur along faults.  [Fault comes from a Latin word meaning "to fail."]

FOCUS: The origin of earthquake waves, or the location inside the earth where rocks shifted during an earthquake. From this point the energy of an earthquake speeds outward through the surrounding rocks in all directions.  [Focus is the Latin word for "hearth", the center of the ancient Roman household.]

STRESS:  The application of forces, such as tension, that tend to cause an object to change its shape or size. Stress is expressed in force per unit of area, such as pounds per square inch or grams per square centimeter.

SEISMIC: Having to do with earthquakes or other movements of the earth’s crust. Seismic waves are waves of motion in the ground produced by earthquakes.  [Seismic comes from a Greek word meaning "to shake."]

SEISMOLOGY: The scientific study of earthquakes and other movements of the earth’s crust.

With the earthquakes in Haiti and in Chile in recent weeks, some people are wondering if something special is going on inside our planet Earth. Is there a reason for all the earthquakes in the news at the same time?  Probably not. The earthquakes in Haiti and Chile are on different faults and of different kinds. Both are huge quakes and the results have been terrible. But each happened independently and they are related to each other only in the sense that they both demonstrate the enormous forces within our planet.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Earthquakes, Earth Science Books   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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