The teaching and learning resources here all pertain to the fundamentals of plate tectonics and earthquakes as featured in CEETEP workshops . Teachers on the Leading Edge and IRIS have even more resources on this topic. For presentations and other resources from a specific CEETEP workshop, visit our Workshops page.


PowerPoint presentations introducing fundamental concepts of Plate Tectonics and Earthquakes. May be used either as learning aids for educators or edited for their own presentations.

Plate Tectonics

Earthquake Seismology

Presentation Guide


Learners demo how seismic waves travelHuman Waves Demo How Seismic Waves Travel

This simple interactive demonstration uses the audience to send seismic waves through a line of people to illustrate the difference between P waves and S waves.

Activity Instructions

Animations: Seismic Wave Motions – Primary [.mov], Secondary [.mov], Raleigh [.mov], Love [.mov]

Animation: Building Response to Seismic Waves

Foam faultsTeaching about Faults Using Foam Faults

This simple demonstration shows how tectonic plates move under compression and extension and helps learners visualize the forces that shape our landscape.

Activity Instructions

Video of classroom demonstration

Related animations

World plate boundaries activityWorld Tectonic Boundaries Mapping

The Plate Tectonics Mapping Activity allows learners to easily begin to identify basic tectonic processes on a global scale. As they become aware of plate movements, learners begin to identify patterns that set the stage for deeper understanding of a very complex topic.

Activity Instructions

Slinky illustrates how different seismic waves travelSeismic Waves and the Slinky(c)

Slinkies are a good tool for modeling the behavior of seismic waves.

Activity Instructions

Video of activity in a classroom

Earthquake machineEarthquake Machine

This block & sandpaper setup models friction and elastic rebound to help learners better understand the earthquake cycle of elastic energy storage and release.

Activity Instructions

Animations of earthquake models

Activity that uses pasta to illustrate earthquake magnitudePasta Quake and Earthquake Magnitude

This activity helps learners understand the concept of earthquake magnitude by breaking different size bundles of uncooked spaghetti noodles. The animation explains the difference between Richter Earthquake Magnitude and the newer Moment Magnitude.

Activity Instructions

Animation: Earthquake Magnitude (Moment vs Richter)