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Bigger Faults Make Bigger Earthquakes - Materials and Procedure


- Three pieces of string or rope that are of different lengths. Suggested lengths: 2 ft., 10 ft., and 20 ft.

1. Discuss earthquakes with students.

2. Break the class into three groups and give each group a length of string. Have them pretend that the string is a fault.

3. Have one student hold each end of the string and have one assigned to "be the earthquake".

4. Explain that during an earthquake the whole fault doesn't move at once, but it unzips like a zipper.

5. Have the student that is being the earthquake put their thumb and forefinger on the rope and slowly walk the length of the rope.

6. The other students in the group should "experience the earthquake" by shaking or jumping up and down from the time the person that is the earthquake starts walking until the time they stop. (This should be done on the playground or in the gym where noise won't be a problem.)

7. After each group has practiced have them observe each other.

8. Explain that each point on the fault that moves releases energy in the form of waves, which we feel as shaking. So the longer the fault, the more energy that is released, and the larger the magnitude of the earthquake.