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***Note: As of late November, 2018, the Virtual Earthquake site appears to be down. I will continue checking and update this entry.***
Virtual Earthquake is an Internet lesson that models seismology, the study of earthquakes. It was created by Gary Novak of California State University. The interactive takes students through the procedures for determining the epicenters and the Richter magnitudes of four historic earthquakes: Loma Prieta and Northridge, California, LaPaz, Mexico, and Kobe, Japan. I found these to be excellent lessons, and that the students enjoyed working through the examples. The students will need access to laptops or a computer lab, and they can also share a computer if necessary and work with partners.
The site provides three seismograms for each earthquake. The students use the method of triangulation whereby the distances of the epicenters from three seismic stations are used to narrow down the epicenter's location on a map. A device termed a "nomogram" is also simulated in order to determine Richter magnitude. As students work through the examples, the site assesses their work and prompts them to return and try again if necessary.
My discovery of the Virtual Earthquake Internet site also prompted me to create a document for students to use while working through the simulations. The document also allows a teacher to collect a tangible hand-in for grading. I wrote lab questions to accompany the simulations, and also included maps for students to mark each earthquake epicenter.