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Seismic Waves and the Slinky
This teaching guide is designed to introduce the concepts of seismic waves that propagate within the Earth, and to provide ideas and suggestions for how to teach about seismic waves. The guide provides information on the types and properties of seismic waves and instructions for using the slinky to effectively demonstrate seismic wave characteristics and wave propagation. Most of the activities described in the guide are useful both as demonstrations for the teacher and as exploratory activities for students. A slinky is used to demonstrate P and S waves, Love wave on floor or tabletop, and Rayleigh waves by using three people and a long slinky. Five slinkys attached to wood block show that waves propagate in all directions from the source and that wave vibration for P and S sources will be different in different directions from the source.
Intended for grade levels:
  • Intermediate (3-5)
  • Middle (6-8)
  • High (9-12)
  • College (13-14)
Type of resource:
  • For the classroom:
    • Lab activity
    • Guide for instructor
Subject:
  • Geological Sciences:
    • Geophysics
  • Physics
Technical requirements:
No specific technical requirements, just a browser required
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
Copyright 2000. L. Braile. Permission granted for reproduction for non-commercial uses.
DLESE Catalog ID: DLESE-000-000-007-420
Educational standards:
  • National Science Education Standards (NSES):
    • K-4:
      • Unifying concepts and processes:
        • Evidence, models, and explanation
      • D - Earth and space science:
        • Properties of earth materials
    • 5-8:
      • Unifying concepts and processes:
        • Evidence, models, and explanation
      • B - Physical science:
        • Transfer of energy
      • D - Earth and space science:
        • Structure of the earth system
    • 9-12:
      • Unifying concepts and processes:
        • Evidence, models, and explanation
      • B - Physical science:
        • Motions and forces
      • D - Earth and space science:
        • Energy in the earth system
Related resources:
This resource is referenced by 'Explorations in Earth Science: Earth Science Education Demonstrations, Lessons and Activities'
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Author: Prof Lawrence W. Braile
Purdue University