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Journey to the Centre of the Earth

  • Key Stage 3
  • GCSE
  • Popular Activity
  • Topical

Type: Activity
Learning Strategy: Communication
Topic: Solar System

Japanese scientists plan to drill deeper than anyone else has ever dug – right through the Earth's crust to the mantle. An American team are also digging deep – they plan to place sensors in a 4 km-deep drill-hole in the San Andreas Fault. Why dig so far? Both teams hope to predict more quickly and accurately when and where earthquakes will strike. The Japanese team are also looking for previously unknown life forms. This activity tells students about the work of the Japanese and American scientists, shows how earthquakes and tsunamis start and gets students to prepare a briefing sheet for a TV news presenter.

Published: 14th June 2005
Reviews & Comments: 13

Learning objectives

Students will deepen their understanding about the structure of the Earth and learn about the origins of earthquakes and tsunamis.

Try the activity

You will need Acrobat Reader installed to open the activity sheets.

Plate Tectonics and the structure of the Earth

11 - 14 (KS3)
The rock cycle QCA 8h:
• The rock cycle links together the processes of rock formation
• The rock cycle provides a continuous supply and transformation of Earth materials

GCSE specifications
AQA Core Science
Unit C1b Oils, Earth and Atmosphere: 12.6 What are the changes in the Earth and its atmosphere?
• The Earth consists of a core, mantle and crust.
• The Earth's crust and the upper part of the mantle are cracked into a number of large pieces (tectonic plates).
• Convection currents within the Earth's mantle, driven by heat released by natural radioactive processes, cause the plates to move at relative speeds of a few centimetres per year.
• The movements can be sudden and disastrous. Earthquakes and/or volcanic eruptions occur at the boundaries between tectonic plates.
Gateway Core Science
Module C2 Rocks and Metals: Item C2c: Does the Earth Move?
• Describe the outer layer of the Earth (lithosphere) as oceanic plates under oceans and continental plates forming continents.
• Describe the lithosphere as the (relatively) cold rigid outer part of the Earth that includes the crust and the outer part of the mantle.
• Explain that tectonic plates are found on top of the mantle because they are less dense than the mantle.
• Explain the problems of studying the structure of the Earth.
Twenty First Century Core Science
Module P1 The Earth in the Universe: P1.1 What do we know about the Earth and Space?
• Label on a given diagram of the Earth its crust, mantle and core.

Running the activity

Display page 1, which tells of the work of the two teams. Then display page 2, which briefly shows how earthquakes and tsunamis begin. At the bottom of the page, two ways of preventing disaster from future earthquakes are suggested.

Each small group or individual will need a copy of page 3. This is a template for the activity – to produce a briefing sheet for a TV news presenter about the scientists' findings. The task is set in the future, so students will need to use their imaginations to report on the scientists' findings and their implications.

Some useful statistics:
Tsunami 26 Dec 2004: At least 126,000 people died, while at least 37,000 others remain missing. The exact number of victims will probably never be known. The number of homeless is estimated at 800,000.

Earthquake in California Dec 23 2003: Two women died, power supplies to about 40,000 people were cut and more than 80 buildings were damaged in the quake, which had a magnitude of 6.5. The earthquake was followed by dozens of aftershocks.

News links

BBC news
This weblink tells of an ambitious project by scientists in the US to try to predict earthquakes. Researchers from the United States Geological Survey and Stanford University are working to put instruments directly inside the San Andreas fault.
The Guardian
This article tells of Japanese scientists who plan to explore beneath the Earth's crust. Using a giant drill ship launched next month, the researchers aim to be the first to punch a hole through the rocky crust that covers our planet and to reach the mantle below.
Newspapers in Education
A summary of what can be learnt from deep drilling.

Reviews & Comments

Write your online review to share your feedback and classroom tips with other teachers. How well does it work, how engaging is it, how did you use it, and how could it be improved?

Journey to the Centre of the Earth review

Jul 14th, 2011

5 Star

Reviewer: brenda goodwill


May 16th, 2011

5 Star

a good resource to enhance key points on the topic.


The earth; Earth quake and vocalnoes

Mar 16th, 2009

5 Star

Excellent activity for a year 10 top set pupils. I like this activity because the pupils will have to use synthetic skills to summarise the knowledge learnt from previous lessons.

Reviewer: Xue Han

Space ship one

Sep 10th, 2008

5 Star

The pupils enjoyed thoroughly planning and designing the project. Good way to share ideas and thw vow factor was phenomenal

Reviewer: Antoinette Nevins

Journey to the Centre of the Earth review

Sep 8th, 2008

5 Star

A great activity. Worked well on a chatty but bright EAL Y9 class.

Reviewer: Kelly Draper

Journey to the Centre of the Earth

May 19th, 2008

3 Star

I would certainly recommend this unit for more able pupils.

I used the ideas as a springboard for my ks3 pupils who were reading at ks1 level and for simple questioning for reluctant speakers.

Reviewer: Ann-marie jack

Can science catch a bomber

Sep 27th, 2007

5 Star

The PGCE trainees find the activities useful but the formula for TNT is incorrect. The formula for trinitrophenol is used for TNT.

Reviewer: Chris Botton

Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Jun 8th, 2006

4 Star

Tried the activity with a low-ability year eight class.

They took a while to get into the activity, but picked up. Followed it on by producing a news report which they acted out in front of the class.

Reviewer: Matthew Doe

Centre of the Earth

May 7th, 2006

4 Star

Used with Y10 GCSE Physics group - seeking to stimulate their imagination during seismic waves session.

Despite repeated prompting their "likely outcomes" kept very much to actual history. Some queried my marking - top grades for the weirdest ideas.

Perhaps a better introduction would have been some science fiction - like "Journey to the Centre of the Earth"!!

Reviewer: Peter Lane

Journey to the Centre of the Earth 1/5/06

May 2nd, 2006

4 Star

I used this activity with a lower ability Year 10 double award science group as part of the predicting volcanic eruptions and earthquakes theme

The worksheets were used as part of a PowerPoint presentation. The newspaper articles led to a good discussion about the problem. The use of the colourful worksheets and "real" articles lent a sense of importance to what could be a very dry subject.

The activity was completed in a 40 min. lesson.

Reviewer: Jeremy Randell

Feb 3rd

Feb 3rd, 2006

4 Star

Kids enjoyed this. Higher level Y10 during plate tectonics work.
I put them in groups of four allocating a presenter, writer and two researchers (one US and one Japanese). Gave the material with the extra articles from the web. The researchers digested the research reports from the BBC and Guardian and gave feed back to writer. Writer composes TV news story with the presenter. Presenter may use researchers as part of an interview if they wish.
Allowed 40 minutes preparation and 2-3 minutes presentation at the end per group. Good 60 minute lesson.


Journey to the Centre of the Earth review

Nov 7th, 2005

5 Star

Used with top set year10 Chemistry students.

Used as the second part of lesson after introducing structure of the earth, tectonic plates, continental drift, formation of mountain ranges, relkationship between fault lines and occurance of volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunami.

Used the worksheets provided and printed off additional information from BBC and the guardian. Pupils engaed really well in the task and enjoyed being able to be creative. Had to reinforce the idea that they were working in the future.

Ended lesson with a pupil led discssion on the problems that the scientists might encounter as they carry out their work and the likelyhood of them succeeding.

An enjoyable lesson for both Pupils and me.

Many Thanks

Reviewer: Kimberley young

Journey to the centre of the earth

Sep 21st, 2005

4 Star

Pupils really took to this activitiy. They were engaged by it's topical yet futuristic subject and dove into the reaserch task given. We copied the
articles provided by the web links and the pupils used them to build their news report briefs. They enjoyed the freedom of preparing their own scientific report while supported by a clear framework. We advanced the activity by providing a marking framework which allowed them to assess each others work and give it a level. They also provided constructive comments on how the work they marked might be improved to raise its level. The activity was enjoyed by top and lower sets.

Reviewer: Gary Greenslade

The upd8 store
200 lessons and assessments from as little as £4.95

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