Science project

Earthquakes: What Can We Learn from History?



Safety Issues


Project Time Frame

4-8 weeks


This project explores ways of dealing with earthquakes.

Project Goals
  • To help develop new and improved earthquake detection methods and techniques.
  • To determine the best courses of action in the aftermath of an earthquake.

Materials and Equipment

  • Computer with internet access
  • Color printer
  • Typical office/craft supplies (such as paper, pens & poster-board)


Within the earth’s crust are naturally occurring bursts of energy, which cause the sudden movement of the earth’s plates.  We experience these events as earthquakes.  An earthquake can be described as any event that generates seismic waves.  This project examines current methods and techniques for dealing with earthquakes.

Research Questions
  • What are the effects of an earthquake?
  • Where do earthquakes occur?
  • What causes an earthquake?
  • What are seismic waves?
  • What earthquake detection methods are currently in use, and how well do they work?
  • What are the most efficient ways to provide emergency assistance to earthquake victims?
Terms and Concepts to Start Background Research
  • Fault lines
  • Natural disaster
  • Plate Tectonics
  • Richter scale
  • Seismic waves

Experimental Procedure

  1. Research related materials (see bibliography below)
  2. Search, print out, and label examples of historical earthquakes.
  3. Create a map showing earthquake regions, fault lines, and other relevant info.
  4. Outline and describe various earthquake detection methods.
  5. Describe the ways in which humans protect themselves and their property from future earthquakes.
  6. Address the ways in which earthquake victims are found, rescued, and assisted by aid workers.
  7. Improve on an existing detection device, earthquake-proofing technique, or search & rescue method.
  8. Design an experiment that would test your new idea.
  9. Interpret your findings in a detailed report.
  10. Illustrate earthquake activity showing charts and diagrams.
  11. Include important images in your science fair display.


  1. National Earthquake Information Center
  2. Earthquake Database (list of more than 6,000 earthquakes with dates and magnitudes, arranged alphabetically  by geographical location)
  3. Virtual Earthquake (Determining the magnitude)
  4. Wiki topic:  “Earthquake
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Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state's handbook of Science Safety.

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