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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Earthquake Weather


Categories: s1 and s2, Population, Other
Trying to catch up on some lessons which I wanted to blog, more as a reminder to myself than anything else. I'm looking at earthquakes for the first time with S2 today. The class should already have a fair knowledge of where earthquakes occur and why they occur too, from the work they have already completed on plate tectonics. Today, we are going to look at how they occur and how they are recorded. I can't remember who it was, but someone recently questioned why students needed to know about different types of earthquake wave. I actually think this is quite important. It develops a deeper understanding of the damage that earthquakes can do and links in to the work that students do later on earthquake proofing. It is quite technical and, I think, strengthens Geography's claim to straddle the science and social subjects, as it takes the waves studied in Physics and links it to people and place. I always borrow slinky coils and ropes from Physics when we teach this, and we'll be doing a demo of P, S and L waves using these today. I also found out very recently that we have a seismometer sitting here unused which is shared by the Physics and Geography department. I have asked for it to be connected to the network, but want to prompt students to think about how it works before we actually use it. For that purpose, I'm setting a little problem solving exercise loosely based on this for my S2 class today. It will be interesting to see how close they come to the website version (update-one group almost spot on in less than ten minutes!).
I am teaching weather again for the first time in many years. Again, it's a scientific branch of Geography, and as such, introduces lots of new terminology. We have been talking about air masses and air pressure recently. For air masses, a simple starter I gave to both S3 classes involved rubbing the table and creating friction and heat. We then sat the paper of a jotter page over the table for a few seconds. The Paper had clearly taken some of the table's heat. This made it very easy explaining how air which forms in certain parts of the world is hot and dry, cold and wet etc just from students knowledge of place. It also helped explain some of the recent cold weather and snow, as we talked about polar air passing over the North Sea actually being heated and taking some moisture to hit eastern areas in particular.
When talking about pressure, as well as looking at the general features of high and low pressure, we also covered the movement of air using this nice little exercise from Alan Parkinson's site. A nice way to bring air masses and air pressure together, as well as introducing synoptic charts was Tony's exercise here. Today, we are starting to look at weather fronts in more detail.
As ever, I'm really enjoying teaching population. With S4, we used the population clock and some key landmark dates in students life lived and yet to come to start looking at population change and how population counts are conducted. This generated some good discussion, as did the Death Clock, which brought a little light relief, but also, an understanding of how lifestyle, gender etc can influence life expectancy. From this, we started looking at some of the other useful information that can be gathered during population surveys through the embedded site above, such as information about religion, cause of death from death certificates and more. This really opened up the reasons why population counts are important, but also led us on to discussion of why the counts might not be accurate. Yesterday (and again today with my other S4 later), we focused more on population change, with the wonderful jelly babies game to get things moving. Thanks to Alan again for the discussion starter.


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