Can Earthquakes Be Predicted?

Can Earthquakes Be Predicted?


Zach Adam
Earth and Space Scientist
Teachers Without Borders
Seattle, WA 98104

Lesson Feedback


This learning video uses a simple analog setup to explore why earthquakes are so unpredictable. The setup is simple enough that students should be able to assemble and operate it on their own with a teacher’s supervision. The teaching approach used in this module is known as the 5E approach, which stands for Engagement, Exploration, Explanation, Elaboration, and Evaluation. Over the course of this lesson, the basic mechanisms that give rise to the behavior of the simple analog system are explained, and further elaboration helps the students to apply their understanding of the analog system to complex fault systems that cause earthquakes. It is important that students be familiar with the following prerequisite concepts before beginning the module: earth’s interior structure, plate tectonics and plate motions, properties of Earth materials, and faults and fault motions. This lesson can be completed in 50 minutes if the basic materials for construction of the analog setup are compiled prior to getting started in class. Materials needed include: two 4” x 4” wooden blocks; two screw eyes, 12x1-3/16” ; one 4”x36” sanding belt (50 Grit); one 1/3 Sheet of sandpaper (60 Grit); one rubber band; 16” of duct tape; one fabric tape measurement ; one pair of scissors; and one hot glue gun. This interactive lesson incorporates two primary types of activities during the breaks between video segments: Analog setup exploration and Guided discussions. The lesson described in this video module has been adapted from activities developed by Hubenthal, M., Braile, L., Taber, J. (2008) Redefining earthquakes and the earthquake machine. The Science Teacher, 75(1), 32-36. For more information click here.

Instructor Biography

Zach Adam is an Emergency Education Intern at Teachers Without Borders, focusing on the crucial role that space systems such as satellites play in emergency preparedness and response efforts. Zach applies his knowledge of geosciences, astrobiology, and astronautics engineering to develop an engaging curriculum that fuses Earth and space sciences education with emergency education. For more information click here

For Teachers

Additional Online Resources

This site presents 12 lessons designed to educate students and teachers with little or no pre-existing knowledge of Earth and space sciences, so that they may protect themselves in the event of an earthquake. All lessons are optimized for scientific content, ease of implementation, appropriateness to the targeted grade levels (middle and high school) and cultural sensitivity.

This site, sponsored by Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, provides animations of the simple analog setup used in this BLOSSOMS video lesson. The animations demonstrate the concept of elastic rebound and how energy is stored and released.