Our first science unit this semester is geology. We begin by learning about earthquakes with the help of Groovy Lab in a Box, a subscription based STEM project kit.
This Groovy Lab in a Box is called Shake It Up. The ultimate challenge in this box is to design and build a skyscraper that can withstand and earthquake.
Zoey is concerned about how earthquakes affect a city, so this experiment is perfect because the goal is to learn how engineers build structures to withstand the movement an earthquake causes.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves...
First, we learned what an earthquake is:
The next question is why earthquakes happen. To answer that we had to talk about tectonic plates and fault lines. Japan is the intersections of four separate tectonic plates (this was very exciting to learn since one of our next units is all about Japan). If an earthquake happens on the west coast of Japan, Tokyo could feel it 160 miles away! That's a long way.
It is time to bring that closer to home. The western coast of the United States follows the edge of a tectonic plate. [Check out this tectonic plate map]. We determined this was why Washington gets so many earthquakes. Though ours are small in comparison to many.
We learned California has a fault line going straight through the state called the San Andreas Fault. That explains why California has has earthquakes out of the continuous United States.
Zoey kept asking questions and we kept finding answers...
But then how do we measure how big an earthquake is? The waves of energy are called seismic waves and calculated by the Richter Scale. We broke each of these parts down and learned more, including that Charles Richter, an American sismologist and physicist, created the Richter magnitude scale.
Once we had an idea of what an earthquake is, why it happens and how we measure it, the experiment could begin!
Our first investigation was called "It's Not My Fault!" and showed how movement within the earth effects the surface and the buildings on the earth's crust.
|Getting materials together|
|Making some colored rice|
|Mixing it up...*shake shake*|
|Laying the colored rice out to dry|
Zoey moved a card that rested on the bottom of the cup to show how movement, even far down the earth's crust would shift anything on the surface. Zoey wrote down her observations that the little house fell over and the represented earth layers also shifted.
|Time to experiment :)|
Still, we understand what the lesson is trying to show and learned a lot more about earthquakes in general. It was a fun lesson and a productive experiment.