Grade: Senior
Subject: Science

#1974. Plotting Earthquakes

Science, level: Senior
Posted Sat Oct 7 22:39:29 PDT 2000 by Brian Gilhooly (
Hamburg High School, Hamburg New York, United States
Materials Required: different colored push pins, large word map with latitude and longitude
Activity Time: ongoing for as long as instructor would like
Concepts Taught: to support evidence of tectonic plate movement

Title: Plotting Earthquakes
- Large world map with lines of latitude and
- Different colored push pins
- Daily list of earthquake locations
Concepts To Be Developed:
That earthquakes are not randomly distributed
throught earth, but occur at plate interfaces.
Student Objectives:
After plotting earthquake locations on the
map, the student should be able to correctly;
identify the pattern of earthquake locations.
show where the ring of fire is.
Procedures and Activities:
This activity was introduced to me by David Vona at North Tonawanda High School,where I was student teaching there.
1. Post a large world map up on the wall, or over cork board.
2. Get a daily list of earthquakes from the National Earthquake Information Center (
3. Post the list next to the map, and highlight the lat/long location, along with the magnitude.
4. Create a key where different colors represent different magnitudes.
5. Place the color coded magnitude key and colored push pins next to the map.
6. Students then are to find where, and what magnitude the earthquake is.
7. Using the right colored pin to represent an earthquake, have the student plot it out on the map.

This activity is nice because you can explain it once, then have students do it as they walk into your room before class starts. After one week, they will see that their plots roughly outline crustal plates.
Another nice thing is that the information is very up to date, and more relevant to the learner. Have fun!