Using the Quake-Catcher Network Citizen Science Project to Meet Common Core and Next Generation Teaching Standards

By February 24th, 2014 at 2:54 pm | Comment

Citizen Science in the Classroom: Quake-Catcher Network

Quake-Catcher Network Citizen Science Project Meeting Common Core and Next Generation Teaching Standards

QCN screen shot 1

Quake-Catcher Network Imaging Map

Grades:

K-12

Description:

Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) is a citizen science project that uses internet and sensors (subsidized or free for K-12 classrooms) to connect schools and other entities to an earthquake monitoring network. It is hosted through Stanford University (along with UC Berkeley) and is supported by the National Science Foundation, US Geological Survey, the Incorporated Research, UPS, and O Navi (a low cost sensor development company).  The idea of this project is to create earthquake and seismology awareness, as well as recording data though a “distributed computing network.” This means that your classroom’s computer will be linked to a network of other computers relaying information back to the central hub monitoring for earthquakes.

For this project you need to be at least fairly tech savvy and able to understand how to download drivers and software, and able to install programs on your computer. The initial investment of time will be setting up everything so that it syncs with the BOINC seismology network. I would suggest at least a good solid hour or possibly two. You may also have to go through your IT department to be sure that there are no firewall issues and that you have permission to add the software required.  However, the investment is well worth the hand-on science aspect of this project and the feeling of connection that students may gain by participating in a global program.

The nice thing about this project is that it provides teacher support, lesson plans, and multimedia materials to help get you started. This type of citizen science, and the lesson plans provided, tends to run towards middle to high school content but it can be used by elementary schools as well.

Materials You’ll Need:

I’m going to spend a bit more time on the materials section, because this project is more tech centered than others. The QCN has different way that your classroom can participate in this project, either through seismic software sensors that are already in your mobile device or laptop (many Macs have this) or by sending you a $5 subsidized sensor. There is an option for a free sensor, but you must be in what they deem a “high risk” area, which I take to mean on a fault line or high activity area. Otherwise, you can mail in a request form for up to 3 sensors for $5 each. The nice thing is that for low income schools you can get a “loan” sensor and there is a free sensor program for schools that are Title1.

qcn sensor

QCN Sensor.

Sensors require that you have a USB capable device and you can dedicate one USB port to the project. The software that you download comes in a variety of formats for Windows and Mac. You will also need a location on the floor that will not be disturbed by students.  Your sensor will be connecting to the network using a software program called BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure Networking Computing). It was originally used for the SETI program, but now it’s used for computer sourcing projects world-wide.

Some of the lesson plans on the QCN site also require that you have a mobile device or computer with an accelerometer. This is built into most smart phones though you may need to download an app. You may also borrow one from QCN. This is not required to participate in the program.

  • Computer with internet access.
  • QCN network sensor.
  • USB Drive that can be dedicated to this project.
  • Permission to download drivers and BOINC software to the computer.
  • Duct Tape and glue
  • Printer

Why This Citizen Science Project is a Strong Candidate for the Classroom:

  • Even though the program has some tech to it, it can be set up fairly easily.
  • There are many strong lesson plans free online.
  • Technology from this project supports STEM curriculum.
  • Teachers can run simulations and scenarios for students in the classroom.
  • This project incorporates maps, graphs, and technology.

Teaching Materials:

The lessons and activities provided by QCN can be found on their website. These tell you exactly what grade they are for and there are variations of some activities for different grade levels, K-12.

Online Safety for Children

The set up for QCN is done by an adult, and students do not need to enter information or data. Teachers will need to create a BOINC account with an e-mail and password. There are options to provide data about where you sensor is located. The more specific (long/lat) the better because this helps with their data collection. However, the BOINC software allows you choose to provide very specific or very general location information if you’re worried about privacy.

Common Core and Next Gen. Standards Met:

First Grade:

Next. Gen. Science: 1-PS4-1 Plan and conduct investigations to provide evidence that vibrating materials can make sound and that sound can make materials vibrate. Teachers may use the “Make Your Own Earthquake” lesson plan for K-4th grade. This includes generating energy waves and observing amplitudes as recorded by a simple seismometer (design using a shoe box, rubber bands, and markers. Alternately teachers may use the “Slinky Demonstration” lesson plan to visualize waves.

Common Core:

Literacy:  W.1.7 Participate in shared research and writing projects. SL1.1. Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups. See lesson plans mentioned for Next. Gen. above, these include collaborative creation of a seismometer and demonstration of waves.

Math: MP.5. Use appropriate tools strategically. Students must measure objects to use in their creation of a seismometer as well as amplitude of waves measured through the seismometer. See above.

Second Grade:

Next. Gen. Science: 2-PS1-1 Plan and conduct an investigation to describe and classify different kinds of materials by their observable properties. Teachers may access the “Soil Liquefaction” lesson plan which is a hands-on lab about the properties of the soil, and how it can become liquefied during an earthquake.

2-ES1-1 Use information from several sources to provide evidence that Earth events can occur quickly or slowly. Teachers may access the lesson plan for “How ‘hard’ does the ground shake during an earthquake.” This is a bit more tech heavy, with the use of an accelerometer (iPhone, laptop, or USB), but it is very hands-on for the students. Instructors may also have students build their own model seismometer in the “Make Your Own Earthquake” lesson plan.

2-PS1-2 Analyze data obtained from testing different materials to determine which materials have the properties that are best suited for an intended purpose. K-2-ETS1-3 Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare strengths and weakness of how each performs. To meet both of these standards teachers may use the QCN lesson plan, “Earthquakes and Buildings Lab.” In this lab students use a limited selection of supplies (paper, tape, index cards) to create an “earthquake resistant structure.” They then test the stability of their structure using the QCN sensor.

Common Core:

Literacy:  RI.2.3 Describe the connection between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text. Students may make this literary connection in any of the three lesson plans described above for Next. Gen. standards.

Math: MP.4 Model with mathematics. MP.5 Use appropriate tools strategically. All of the lesson plans above (for NGS)require students to understand how to create models and use mathematical tools strategically.

QCN shot 2

Some of the materials available on the QCN site.

Third Grade:

Next. Gen. Science: 3-PS2-2 Make observations and/or measurements of an objects motion to provide evidence that a pattern can be used to predict future motion. Teachers may download the “How are magnitude and intensity different (yet related)?” lesson plan. This lesson plan has students compare an earthquake’s magnitude and intensity using  a weight drop and accelerometer. The students also use USGS “ShakeMaps” to look at and predict intensity and distance from source of an earthquake. This lesson says it is for grades 5-12, so you may need to modify a bit, but it’s doable for 3rd grade. Instructors may also have students build their own model seismometer in the “Make Your Own Earthquake” lesson plan which may help students predict patterns of earthquake motion.

Common Core:

Literacy: W.3.8 Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic. The two lesson plans mentioned above (under NGS) require short research projects and knowledge building.

Math: MP.2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively. MP.5 Use appropriate tools strategically. Both lesson plans listed above (under NGS) require mathematics measurements and abstract quantification as well as tool use.

qcn 2

Teachers may set up earthquake simulations through the QCN website.

Fourth Grade:

Next. Gen. Science: 4-PS4-1 Develop a model of waves to describe patterns in terms of amplitude and wavelength and that waves can cause objects to move. The following lesson plans, from QCN, look at amplitude and wave length: “Make Your Own Earthquake,” “Magnitude and Intensity Lab,” “How ‘hard’ Does the Ground Shake During an Earthquake,” and “Slinky Demonstration.” Each of these provides a variety of ways to look at how amplitude and wavelength care measured and how waves move objects. Students may also create model buildings and measure the effects of waves in the “Earthquakes and Buildings Lab.”

Common Core:

Literacy: SL.4.5 Add audio recordings and visual displays to presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes. Students may present the scientific process, materials and methods, and results of any of the lesson plans above (see NGS above) using audio or visual displays to enhance their findings.

Math: MP.4. Model with mathematics. Most of the projects listed above [see NGS standards] (excluding the slinky exercise) require mathematical quantification of amplitude and magnitude, as well as modeling.

Fifth Grade:

Next. Gen. Science: 5-PS1-3 Make observations and measurements to identify materials based on their properties. Teachers may access the “Soil Liquefaction” lesson plan which is a hands-on lab the properties of the soil, and how it can become liquefied from a solid during an earthquake.

3-5-ETS1-1 Design a simple design problem reflecting a need or want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost. 3-5-ETS1-2 Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem. To meet both of these standards teachers may use the QCN lesson plan, “Earthquakes and Buildings Lab.” In this lab students use a limited selection of supplies (paper, tape, index cards) to create an “earthquake resistant structure.” They then test the stability of their structure using the QCN sensor. Students may compare structures for “multiple solutions to a problem.”

Common Core:

Literacy:  W.5.7 Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic. W.5.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational tests to support analysis, reflection, and research. Teachers may have student research earthquakes to find materials to support their hands-on research projects listed above (see NGS).

Math: MP.2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively. MP.4 Model with mathematics. MP.5 Use appropriate tools strategically. All of the lesson plans mentioned above (see NGS) require mathematical analysis, modeling, and tools.

Middle School:

Next. Gen. Science: MS-PS3-2Develop a model to describe that when the arrangement of objects interacting at a distance changes, different amounts of potential energy are stored in the system. MS-PS3-5 Construct, use, and present arguments to support the claim that when kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object. MS-PS4-2 Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials. MS-ESS1-2 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth’s surface at varying time and spatial scales. MS-ESS2-3 Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and rocks, continental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence of the past plate motions. S-ETS1-1 Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment.

The following lesson plans, from QCN, look at amplitude and wave length, potential and kinetic energy, and absorption and reflection fo energy: “Make Your Own Earthquake,” “Magnitude and Intensity Lab,” “How ‘hard’ Does the Ground Shake During an Earthquake,” and “Slinky Demonstration.” Each of these provides a variety of ways to look at how amplitude and wavelength care measured and how waves move objects. Students may also create model buildings, and measure the effects of waves, in the “Earthquakes and Buildings Lab.”

Common Core:

Literacy:  RST.6.8.3 Follow precisely a multi-step procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks WHST.6-8.7 Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and generating additional related focused questions that allow multiple avenues of exploration. All of the lesson plans listed above are hands-on science experiments that require students to follow instructions step by step. Teachers may have students research the topics and create additional follow up questions.

Math: MP.2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively. MP.4 Model with mathematics. MP.5 Use appropriate tools strategically. All of the lesson plans mentioned above (see NGS) require mathematical analysis, modeling, and tools.

High School:

Next. Gen. Science: HS-lS4-5 Evaluate the evidence supporting claims that changes in environmental conditions may result in (1) increases in the number of individuals of some species, (2) the emergence of new species over time, and (3) the extinction of other species. HS-ESS1-5 Evaluate evidence of the past and current movements of continental oceanic crust and the theory of plate tectonics to explain the ages of crustal rocks. HS-ESS1-6 Apply scientific reasoning and evidence from ancient Earth materials, meteorites, and other planetary surfaces to construct an account of Earth’s formation and early history. HS-ESS2-1 Develop a model to illustrate how Earth’s internal and surface processes operate at different spatial and temporal scales to form continental and ocean-floor features.  HS-ESS2-2 Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other of Earth’s systems.

Teachers may use the lesson plans provided on the QCN network to supplement student’s understanding of how earthquakes function to create geological changes over time. They may then have students apply the principles that they learn, and reasoning, to analyze geologic maps and fault lines to discuss movement of plates and continents. Additionally they may use these studies to discuss claims about speciation due to geologic processes.