Disaster in Japan

I’ve had lots of non-science friends ask me clarifying questions about what they have been hearing and seeing through the media – too bad for them I wasn’t an earth science teacher! I thought I would share some blog posts that have been helpful for me in trying to understand the what, why, and repercussions of the earthquake as well as a couple of posts from the New York Times that include lessons and activities.

You can also do a search in the Middle School Portal 2 Digital Library – you’ll get back resources that right on track for middle school science students.

Please share additional information and resources that have been helpful to you and your students in the comment section.

Resources

Japan Struggles to Control Quake-Damaged Nuke Plant – from Wired Science

Fukushima Nuclear Reactor Explained – video from CNN

Japan Quake May Have Shortened Earth Days, Moved Axis – from NASA

Recent Earthquake Teachable Moments: Animations from IRIS – includes video

The Japan Earthquake and Tsunami – from NSTA – includes lessons and activities

Teaching Ideas: The Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan – from New York Times Learning Network

20 Ways to Teach About the Disaster Across the Curriculum – from New York Times Learning Network

Building Quake-Resistant Structures in the Classroom -  from Middle School Portal 2 blog

Seafloor Spreading

Seafloor spreading can be a difficult concept for middle school students to grasp. These resources should help make the concept comprehensible through the use of images and animations and by acknowledging the concept’s larger context of plate tectonics.

Harry Hess: One of the Discoverers of Seafloor Spreading
This detailed biography shows how Hess’s skills enabled him to contribute to the scientific knowledge base of seafloor spreading and how his observations, models and predictions support the theory of plate tectonics.

The Distance Between Us and Them: Seafloor Spreading in the Atlantic Ocean
In this activity, students gain an understanding of how geologists determine rates of seafloor spreading. Using a strip map of the North Atlantic seafloor, students measure distances and note the ages of the strips of basalt. They also gain experience in applying mathematical concepts such as calculation and use of velocities and conversion from one set of units to another.

Seafloor Spreading
This page, part of the NeMO project, provides a concise explanation and a graphic representation of seafloor spreading and its relationship to divergent tectonic plates. Related links at the bottom of page include a link to mid-ocean trenches.

This Dynamic Earth: The Story of Plate Tectonics
This free, online booklet, containing photos and graphic illustrations, puts the idea of seafloor spreading in the larger context of plate tectonics.

Interactive Animation of Seafloor Spreading and Magnetic Field Reversals
Earth’s magnetic field reverses itself from time to time; North becomes South and South becomes North. Rocks on the seafloor on either side of a mid-ocean spreading ridge preserve a record of the Earth’s magnetic field over time. This page also shows how distance from the ridge is related to age or time.


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We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 11/08/2011.