Plate Tectonics Box

Quake Prints - Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan

  1. Give students the student handout and allow them read the first page. Be prepared to answer questions, especially with unknown vocabulary.
  2. Direct students to the Virtual Courseware - Earthquakes website (
  3. Optional: have students complete the tutorials before proceeding to the 2 main activities. This will take 10-20 minutes extra.
  4. Give students 40-45 minutes to work through the 2 activities and complete the quiz.
  5. When students are finished, the teacher can check each person’s certificate of completion.

Quake Prints - Getting Ready

Getting Ready

  1. Reserve the computer lab.
  2. Register your class on the Virtual Courseware site in order for the results of your students’ review quiz to be saved.
    • On the main page, click the “Assessment” button under “For Instructors”.
    • Read the information under the “Information” button then register your class using the “Register” button.
    • Remember the class code and your password since these are required for you to retrieve your class results later using the “Class Results” button.
  3. Adapt the Earthquake Fingerprints handout so that the proper class code is entered on the second page near the bottom.
  4. Make copies of the Earthquake Fingerprints handout.

Quake Prints - Background

Teacher Background
P and S waves: Image courtesy of USGS.P and S waves: Image courtesy of USGS.An earthquake has struck somewhere in California! Can you figure out where? If you learn to read a seismogram you can!

First some earthquake basics… (The following background information is provided in greater detail on the student handout.) There are faults (cracks in the Earth’s surface) that can suddenly move as pressure from the movement of the Earth’s crust builds up. This sudden movement is an earthquake.

Quake Prints - Logistics

45-50 minutes


Individual or in pairs depending on the number of computers you have.


  • Computers with internet access
  • Copy of the Earthquake Fingerprints handout for each student

Computer lab

Plate Tectonics Box

In this box are an assortment of lessons to teach students about earthquakes and plate tectonics. As students progress through the unit, evidence supporting the theory of plate tectonics accumulates. They begin by researching the 10 largest earthquakes over the last 30 years. This information is plotted on a world map along with information about the location of active volcanos and mid-ocean ridges.