This earthquake plotting activity will help your students to discover the relationship between the location of earth’s earthquakes and the tectonic plate boundaries. Most activities of this nature require students to plot the earthquakes using latitude and longitude coordinates, but for this version, students will use a simple X-Y grid to plot and color code up to 30 different earthquakes. All of the 30 earthquakes included on the list were of magnitude 6.7 or greater. Their dates and locations are also included.
There are three differentiated versions of the maps and earthquake lists to accommodate your different learners.
After plotting/coloring all of the points, students will make at least three observations of their plotted earthquakes. Discuss students’ observations as a class. They will notice that many earthquakes appear to be in lines, that many occurred along the edges of continents, and that certain places do not have any major earthquakes, like Africa and Northeastern America.
For the second part of the activity, hand out a Tectonic Plate Boundaries map to each student (you could make a class set and reuse these). Students will place this map underneath their earthquake plot map. Have them hold these maps up to a window so they can see through to the tectonic plate lines. They should line up the continents and carefully trace all of the tectonic plate boundaries onto their earthquake map. After doing this, the students will make at least three observations of their map.
I made this activity for my 6th graders and the differentiated versions helped me to facilitate this lesson with all of my students at the same time without having some students blow way ahead of the others and without some students taking a lot longer to plot the points than others and feeling frustrated. At the end of the activity, everyone understood the big ideas and had a map that they felt proud of!
Thanks for looking!