Elaborate: This phase of the 5 E’s extends students’ conceptual understanding and allows them to practice skills and behaviors. Through new experiences, the learners develop deeper and broader understanding of major concepts, obtain more information about areas of interest, and refine their skills (from Enhancing Education http://enhancinged.wgbh.org/research/eeeee.html)

In the elaborate phase we want students to extend and deepen their understanding of plate tectonics and apply their knowledge to a range of situations.

The assessment piece was discussed in my post – More on curriculum links, assessment and revisiting the quiz.

In the extend phase, I would like students to apply the knowledge they have gained in previous classes, to understand volcanic and seismic activity in Australia.  Australia has an abundance of mineral resources resulting from past volcanic activity, and an abundance of coastal rainforests and rich, fertile, volcanic soil.   A bit of time spent in the classroom discussing Australian volcanic history could be followed by a field trip to one of our local volcanic artefacts (such as Mt Warning, Lamington Plateau or Burleigh Headlands).  If an excursion is not possible, Google Earth can be used to view the map from above and leads you to a fantastic information area containing information about the Tweed Shield volcano (and has pictures from all different angles).  The “Big Volcano” website (http://www.bigvolcano.com.au/), also has links to our  region’s volcanic history and John Seach, a local Brisbane volcanologist, has a fantastic website listing all the past volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis in Australia, including the Tweed shield volcano http://www.volcanolive.com/australia.html) as does the Romsey Australia earthquake update website http://home.iprimus.com.au/foo7/volcmap.html.  And ooohhh oooh oooh I just found a super reference here http://www.mrkscience.com/planbook/Earth%20Science/Apr12010/Volcanoes%20Teacher%20Notes.pdf  from Geo science Australia.  The Gold Coast has a rich indigenous past and our indigenous population view our volcanoes quite differently – It would be nice in this section if we could have a local indigenous person talk to the class about Indigenous perspectives of our volcanic region.  Indigenous presenters are available through the Minjungbal Aboriginal Museum in Tweed Heads, Gold Coast.

Students will be aware of minor fault lines, from knowledge gained in the explain section, and this can also be applied to Australia to explain our seismic activity.  Geoscience Australia is involved in monitoring seismic activity, performing risk assessments and producing potential hazard plans and warning systems and there is an abundance of information on their website about these systems http://www.ga.gov.au.  It is predicted there will be a major earthquake around Western Australia or South Australia at some time in the near future and the Geoscience website also mentions the possibility that mining could be responsible for worsening of earthquake activity in Australia.

Lesson 5: Volcanoes and Earthquakes in Australia 


  • Hook – Teacher will play the following clip

about the 2010 Earthquake in Kalgoorlie, WA.

  • Think: Pair: Share – why does Australia have earthquakes  when we are not on a tectonic plate boundary (formative assessment to ensure students understand the concept of minor fault lines)?
  • Think: Pair: Share – Australia has many dormant and extinct volcanoes, yet we are not on a tectonic plate boundary – what kind of volcanoes are our volcanoes likely to be? What kind of lava are they likely to have erupted the most? (this will get students to apply their information about hotspots and basalt lava to form shield volcanoes).
  • The focus of the class today is AUSTRALIA
Activity 1: Earthquakes in Australia 
  • Concept map – Students will help teacher compile a concept map on the board about what they know about Earthquakes
  • Teacher will ask What large earthquakes do you know about in Australia’s history?
  • Teacher will prompt students by asking, what is meant by a large earthquake? i.e. applying their knowledge of magnitude of earthquakes.
  • Teacher will provide students with a map of Australia, with its fault lines, for their log books.
From your map – where do you think the areas most likely to have Earthquakes would be?
  • Teacher will show students an earthquake hazard map of Australia, developed by Geoscience Australia.
  • Students will be instructed to research the Geoscience Australia website and answer the following questions in their log books (may be done in pairs)
Go to http://www.ga.gov.au/earthquakes/ and view the earthquake activity in Australia and the surrounding region.
  1. Have any earthquakes occurred in Australia in the past 24 hours? the past week? what magnitude were they?
  2. Look at the area the earthquakes occurred – does this coincide with areas of high fault lines on your map? or areas of high hazard (in pink) on the hazard map?
  3. What earthquakes have occurred in the surrounding regions near Australia? Are these earthquakes more numerous or of higher magnitude? WHY do you think seismic activity is higher in this region? (note:  I have been watching this map for a few weeks and there are always numerous dots (indicating earthquakes) at the plate boundary between the Pacific and Indo-Australian plates.  There is also usually activity, small Earthquakes under magnitude 3,  in WA and SA.)  
  4. Click on the most significant earthquake in the Pacific Rim area (around Indonesia) – you will be taken to a screen where you can click on the dot and “view details” about the earthquake.  Where was the earthquake and what was its magnitude? did it generate a tsunami risk (indicated on the left bar)?
  5. If you explore the data on this earthquake you ill find an estimation of the distance it would have been felt, along with the distance it may have caused damage.  Which type of seismic waves are responsible for most of the estimated damage? To test students knowledge about surface waves vs S waves and P waves.  
  6. You will also see that some seismic waves were recorded on seismic monitoring stations in Australia – if you click on one of the yellow triangles on the Australian map, you will find a picture of the seismic reading.  Which seismic waves were being detected by this monitoring station? Why do you say that? This is to test students knowledge of P and S waves and their ability to travel through water.  
  7. Go back to your starting page at  http://www.ga.gov.au/earthquakes/ and change the REFINE options on the top menu bar to “Last 30 days” and “Australia Only” – save your options.  (This will show you earthquakes in Australia in the past 30 days).  Have there been many earthquakes?  How many? There are likely to be 35-40 with at least a couple large enough to have had seismic readings done.  
  8. Click on the largest spot and assess the data, as you did with the Indonesian earthquake through the “view details” section.  Click on one of the seismic monitoring stations near the event and look at the seismograph – what waves would the station have been recording? Click on a monitoring station some distance away from the event.  What seismic waves would the station have been recording? Are they the same waves as the other station? Why? Again – ability to apply knowledge of s and p waves and how they travel
  9. Review the Earthquake Historic Events to see the significant earthquakes in our history and the Tsunami events to see tsunami activity.  These events have triggered an increase in funding for seismic monitoring and tsunami warning systems, what other role does the government play in the impact of natural disasters? There is a section on the website overviewing PREVENTION, PREPAREDNESS, RESPONSE, RECOVERY.  This details the money poured into predicting natural disasters and means to prevent them (e.g. building codes), prepare for them (e.g. tsunami warning systems), responding to natural disasters (e.g. having a plan for disaster relief centers) and recovery (e.g. funds specifically in the coffers for rebuilding disaster hit cities). 
  • Teacher will supervise class through activity – pointing them in the right direction in their log book notes to find any answers needed.  
Class reflection…
  • What did you learn? Did anything surprise you? Teacher will update the class concept map on the board with the help of the class.
Activity 2:  Volcanoes in Australia
  • Teacher will ask the class if anyone seen a volcano or been to or near a volcano?  At the beginning of the class I asked you what would have been the most common kind of volcano in Australia and why? What did we decide?
  • Teacher will ask – Do we have any active volcanoes in Australia? Are we likely to have any in the future?
  • Read the following website from Romsey Australia (volcano section only) http://home.iprimus.com.au/foo7/volcmap.html
  • Teacher will tell students to summarize the notes on Australia’s volcanic history, risk of present activity and prediction of future activity in point form (do not worry about types of plants – just volcanic activity)  – Teacher will supervise students through this task.  What are the main points you have learned?  Teacher will go round the class and ask each student to outline one point from the text and will write them on the board (or on the computer).  The text outlines Victoria’s potentially active volcano (i.e. stated now as dormant rather than extinct), discusses the presence of a hotspot thought to have been triggered or re-activated by the King Island earthquake in 2002.  Looks at Lord Howe island and the surrounding seamount (hotspot caused…), and reviews the volcanic activity in Australia listing the lava fields and volcanoes down the east coast of Australia caused by Australia travelling over a hotspot – evidence of this is that the volcanoes become younger as you move southward (SW) and Australia is moving North (NE). 
At this point students could be taken on a field trip to Mount Warning or Tamborine Mountain and have the volcanic history of the region explained to them – followed by a trip on the return foot to Minjungbal Aboriginal Museum in Tweed Heads for a talk on Aboriginal connections to volcanic landmarks/ Dreamtime explanations of earthquakes.  Alternatively, students could do an in-school field trip through Google Earth, reading the background information on volcanic activity in the area (from the Big Volcano website), while taking a guided flyby tour of the region (like only Google Earth can do!!!).  An indigenous representative from te Minjungbal Museum could then visit the school for a talk on the Aboriginal connection to Big Volcano.
At the end of the lesson should come a class discussion and reflection.  At the end of the lesson students will also be given their Assessment 2 task – The Disaster Report, the rubric used for marking (see below), and their allocated groups/topics.
Students will be given the next weeks lesson to work on their reports, the students need to communicate prior to this class to begin their research on the topic.  This could be done in friendship pairs or teacher allocated pairs, depending on the class.
Website links will be given to students to assist in helping them to find relevant information about the event if they are having difficulties.

ASSESSMENT 2:  The Disaster Report    50%

You are a scientist reporting to the government on a natural disaster.  You, and your partner, will prepare a 7 minute long presentation (PowerPoint or Multimedia) on the event.     

Your presentation should include:

  1. What occurred and When
  2. Where your disaster was situated on a map and pictures/ video footage
  3. Why/ how the disaster occurred (include an overview of tectonics behind the disaster and any other related important science – e.g. type of volcano, why tsunamis occur etc.)
  4. What warning devices were in place and what could have been done to reduce the impact of the disaster?

You will work in pairs for this activity and will be allocated a natural disaster (one of the list below) to investigate – time will be provided in class and you should also spend time outside school hours to prepare your presentation.

Natural Disasters:

  • Mt Krakatoa,  Indonesia – August 26-28, 1883 – Volcanic eruption/ tsunami
  • Tohoku, Japan – March 11, 2011 – Earthquake/ tsunami
  • Indian Ocean, Sumatra, Indonesia – December 26, 2004 – Earthquake/ tsunami
  • Nevado del Ruiz, Columbia – November 13, 1985 – Volcanic eruption/ mudslide
  • Christchurch, New Zealand – February 22, 2011 – Earthquake/ liquefaction
  • Mount Pelée, Martinique – April 23 – May 8, 1932 – Volcanic eruption/Pyroclastic flow
Click below for the assessment rubric for this task