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A collection of single-slide thought-provoking questions followed by a single slide answer. These can be used as a warm-up opener or an exit ticket at the end of class. The purpose of these slides is to enable physics teachers connect core principles of physics to the Earth. 

Recognizing the limited time for adding new topics into the physics curriculum, these resources strive to seamlessly integrate geophysics topics and applications into the existing physics curriculum. For example, students can demonstrate their basic knowledge of waves while calculating the magnitude of an earthquake!  Newton's Laws have to be endlessly applied to car's or boats, but these same principles are in play when considering tectonic plates or seismographs! Thus, by applying the Conceptual Physics approach used by Paul G. Hewitt these resources seek to make connections between the concepts of physics and the study of Earth.

Topics covered in slides include:

  • Newton's First Law
  • Electromagnetic Induction
  • Horizontal and transverse waves
  • Resonance & frequency
  • Electromagnetic spectrum, speed, waves properities
  • Waves and material properities
  • Superposition of waves
  • Kinetic energy and work
  • Attenuation, work, Huygen’s principle
  • Refraction


Related Animations

Seismic waves travel at different speeds through different materials. In this 2-layer model two wave fronts leave an impact at the same time but the lower layer is faster. 

Animation Novice

Seismic waves travel a curving path through the earth due to changes in composition, pressure, and temperature within the layers of the Earth. 

Animation Novice

Animation shows the race between the direct seismic wave vs. the deeper, longer-path critically refracted seismic wave. Graph records the arrival times.

Animation Novice

In this model of increasing velocity with depth, the critically refracted seismic rays speed up with depth as they pass 5 different velocity boundaries.

Animation Intermediate

Related Lessons

Like other waves, seismic waves obey the laws of physics. In this activity Physics students have the opportunity to apply their understanding of the basic concepts of waves (e.g. reflection, refraction and transmission of energy) as they examine seismic data to determine how far it is from the surface to the bedrock.

Lesson Intermediate