Plate Tectonic - Hazards (2)
Pre Lab 

  • Evaluating where a student can seek shelter during an earthquake.
  • Discovering how to think during an earthquake.
  • earthquake
  • hazard
  • plate tectonics
  • tremor
  • worksheet

Students evaluate what to do after a severe earthquake.

Collapsed building in Japan.


The motions of the plates cause earthquakes and volcanoes. When a volcano erupts or an earthquake shakes the ground, it can have a profound effect on the lives of people that live nearby. These events are natural phenomena that cannot be "stopped" by human intervention. Scientists cannot engineer a way to prevent erupting or shaking. People need to cope with these possible dangers. Danger and damage can be minimal if certain logical steps are taken. To illustrate this concept, this unit will emphasize earthquake hazards and what to do when an earthquake shakes the ground.

When an earthquake strikes, many people are unprepared. Fear takes over their body and mind. The mind thinks quickly looking for a memory that might help them, but if there is no memory of what to do the body is just stricken with inactivity. The more a child hears about what to do in a disaster, the most likely they will react.

  1. Remind the students that earthquakes and volcanoes are caused by plate movement. Emphasize that earthquakes and volcanoes are natural. Explain that disasters only occur when people are hurt by one of these events, and that most eruptions and earthquakes cause little or no destruction to people and property.
  2. Discuss what the students should do during a severe earthquake. This would be an event where utilities were offline, much structural damage occurred, and communications were disrupted. Fires and other secondary disasters might also occur. To prepare for this scenario, students need to be informed about where they should seek shelter and whom they should contact. Most earthquakes are only small tremors, but one must always be prepared.
  3. The answers to this exercise will vary from area to area. For example, services available in an urban as opposed to a rural area will be different. Try to have the students assess why they should go to a certain area and not to another. Remember that structures such as electrical lines probably will go down during a severe earthquake, so be sure to discuss dangerous areas to avoid. This exercise can be used in different situations such as at home, at school, and at church. If you do not know the answers for your area, consult your principal who should have a school disaster plan. Many states require them by law.

    Students should seek a safe area after the shaking ends. Families, schools, and churches should all have a "safe" area where all members should meet, so that everyone is accounted for, and damage can be assessed. Places like a firehouse will not be a good place to go because firemen will be out helping the community. Schools may be designated in your state as focal places for communities. Emphasize to the students that after the quake, they should logically think of what is the safest place for them. Second graders are old enough to assess danger versus safety.

    Students should learn that they should not hide during an earthquake. Their parents, teachers, and friends need to know that the child is safe, so hiding will not help the situation.

    Discuss that the students may not be able to call for help after an earthquake, because phone lines might be down. If they are operating, only one phone call might get through, so the students should know in advance who and where they are going to call.

  4. If you know the name of the school, local fire house, and any other locations, have the students write their names on the worksheet.

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