How Hard Does the Ground Shake During a Quake?

This activity opens by asking students to demonstrate how 'hard" they think the ground shakes during an earthquake. To quantify their demonstrations of ground shaking, students are introduced to a three-component accelerometer (iPhone, laptop or USB). Have a teacher lead discussion, and allow the students to explore what an accelerometer measures. Next, students reflect on their estimations of ground shaking and compare it to a classroom demo (shaking a table with things on it at various peak accelerations), video clips of a full-scale house on a shake table, and recordings from actual quakes. The activity concludes by making connections between peak ground accelerations and the concept of an earthquakes intensity. 


Students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate ground shaking during an earthquake
  • Explain what an accelerometer measures
  • Explain earthquake intensity and how it is measured 
  • Explain/demonstrate how an accelerometer can be used to measure an earthquakes intensity


Total Time: 1h
Level: Novice


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