PRISMS: Phenomena & Representation for Instruction of Science in Middle School

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This is a representation reviewed for the following learning goal:

There are worldwide patterns to major geological events (such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and mountain building) that coincide with plate boundaries.

Summary

A world map depicts the location of earthquakes that occurred today, yesterday, over the past 2 weeks, and over the past 5 years.  One can click on the map to zoom in and take a closer look at a region of the planet. It addresses the key idea that there are worldwide patterns to earthquakes that coincide with plate boundaries. Although students may need assistance recognizing the significance between the location of plate boundaries and earthquake activity, the resource is likely to be comprehensible to middle school students.

Limitations: This resource does not have lines that show where the plate boundaries are, it just shows where the earthquakes are.

Suggestions to improve effectiveness: Consider asking students to map earthquakes on paper before showing them this resource. Clarify the significance of evidence for plate boundaries and geologic activity. Provide a map showing the plate boundaries drawn on it, or a map showing the topography that makes the breaks between the plates evident so students can compare the locations of the earthquakes with the plate boundaries.

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Detailed Review

Description

The representation shows the worldwide occurrence of earthquakes over time. A world map indicates the location of earthquakes that occurred today, yesterday, over the past 2 weeks, and over the past 5 years. One can click on the map to zoom in and take a closer look at a region of the planet.

  • Resource Copyright Owner: Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology
  • Type of Resource: image/gif


Content alignment

The resource addresses the actual substance of the learning goal rather than just the topic.

Explanation

The learning goal indicates that students should know that because major geologic events occur primarily at or near plate boundaries, there are patterns to those events that coincide with plate boundaries. This resource allows students to identify world-wide patterns in seismic activity (earthquake activity) by providing actual data plotted on a world map.

Scope

The resource addresses the indicated part of the learning goal:

Explanation

[There are worldwide patterns to major geological events (such as earthquakes,] volcanic eruptions, and mountain building) [that coincide with plate boundaries.]

Sophistication

The resource correctly reflects the level of sophistication of the learning goal.

Explanation

The use of terminology is limited to "seismic." More detailed information such as earthquake depth and instrumentation used is an optional feature.

Notes for Teachers

Quality of instructional support

Does the representation accurately represent relevant aspects of the learning goal and/or brings out limitations that are not accurate?

Yes—The representation accurately represents relevant aspects of the learning goal and brings out inaccuracies, if there are any.

The representation shows the locations of earthquakes with a magnitude of 4.0 and higher over the past 5 years. Multiple data points align with plate boundaries.

Is the representation likely to be comprehensible to students?

Partial—The representation might make the learning goal comprehensible to students.

Multiple data points make plate boundaries readily observable. Students may need assistance recognizing the significance between the location of plate boundaries and earthquake activity due to the absence of descriptive text explaining this connection. This resource does not have lines that show where the plate boundaries are, it just shows where the earthquakes are. The correlation between the earthquake locations and the plate boundaries will have to be made using another resource.

Does the representation make clear which aspects of the real thing are represented and which are not?

Yes—The representation makes clear which aspects of the real thing are represented and which are not.

Individual earthquakes are color-coded to reveal the time frame in which they occurred and are noted using various sized circles which correspond to their magnitude. The map also includes a daylight/darkness line.

Summary Judgment

Useful

Notes to teachers

Consider asking students to map earthquakes on paper before showing them this resource. Clarify the significance of evidence for plate boundaries and geologic activity. Provide a map showing the plate boundaries drawn on it, or a map showing the topography that makes the breaks between the plates evident so students can compare the locations of the earthquakes with the plate boundaries.

Display the Resource