Magnitude 5.8 Virginia Earthquake

Learning Objectives

Students will read a recent science news article and discuss the content.
Depending the on the article, students may be asked to draw connections to current events or other classroom exercises.

Standards Addressed

Depending on the article, one of these standards may be most appropriate:

Subject Area - 1: Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening

     Standard Area - 1.3: Reading, Analyzing, and Interpreting Literature - Fiction and Non-Fiction

          Grade Level - 1.3.6: GRADE 6

               Standard - 1.3.6.A: Read, understand, and respond to works from various genres of literature

                    Assessment Anchor - R6.A.2: Understand nonfiction appropriate to grade level.

Preparation Time Needed

<30 minutes, enough time to read the article and associated questions, answer the questions, and possibly come up with more that are relevant to recent class exercises. 

Activity Description

(Part of the PAESTA In The News - Current Events in Earth and Space Science Series. This series compiles current resources and background materials for recent scientific events in the news. Questions are provided with each topic, written across Bloom's Taxonomic Scale, and can be used for classroom discussion and/or as a writing prompt at the beginning/middle/end of an instructional unit.)

August 23, 2011. - Residents from Georgia to Canada felt the ground shake from an earthquake that occurred not on the west coast, but in the center of the North American tectonic plate. It had been 70 years since the east coast felt an earthquake like the 5.8 that originated in Mineral, Virginia.

Articles to Share with Students

General Information

Questions for Classroom Discussion

  • What is an earthquake? Explain the difference between the magnitude (Richter Scale) and intensity (Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale) of an earthquake. Where are earthquakes most common?
  • Describe the difference between the magnitude (Richter Scale) and intensity (Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale) of an earthquake. Why are both of these scales important for learning about an earthquake event?
  • How do scientists study earthquakes? Who else is involved in studying and reporting on earthquakes besides scientists?
  • Where was the most recent earthquake in the United States? In the world? Which recent earthquake was the closest to you? (*use the website to answer this question)
  • Could an earthquake occur in Pennsylvania. Explain why/why not.
  • Why do you think earthquakes are so difficult to predict?
  • Should people be able to live in an area where earthquakes occur? Why/why not?

Compiled August 30, 2011, by L.A. Guertin. Teachers are encouraged to search for more recent articles and related discoveries.

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