Welcome to the educational component of the NSF CAREER grant (Integrated Research and Education in
Regional Evaluation of Seismic Hazards
).  On this website is a comprehensive set of lessons and activities focused on mapping, geology, earthquakes and earthquake hazards.  The program was written with middle school students in mind, but certainly can be adapted to suit the needs of other age groups.

What makes the activities on this site different from most geology sites is the emphasis on mapping, with students both reading and making many different kinds of maps.  After all, of what use are maps (whether topographic, earthquake hazard or plate boundary) if students do not have the skills to accurately interpret or make predictions from them?

A second focus that makes some of these geology activities and lessons unique is the focus on the earthquakes and earthquake hazards in Massachusetts.  While earthquakes in some parts of the country such as the San Francisco Bay area can be readily understood, here in New England the cause of earthquakes is not clear.  Of course earthquakes are caused by movement along a fault, but what faults are active and where, exactly, are they?  While there are multiple hypotheses, there is no one generally accepted explanatory theory.  By comparing the two geographic regions, students come to understand the nature of science in the real world.


The major components of this website are


The mapping section of this unit includes how to read topographic maps, use of a compass, making a scale map, and understanding the strengths and limitations of various world map projections

Basic Geology

Students learn about earth’s materials, structure and processes through a series of inquiry based activities.  Students then use a variety of different maps to interpret the geological landscape.

Earthquake Hazards and Engineering

The emphasis in this part of the program is on a comparison of the San Francisco Bay area and Greater Boston in terms of earthquakes and earthquake hazards, including liquefaction, and the design and construction of a working model of an earthquake resistant building by the students.

Local Field Trips

Resource List

Enjoy the activities with your students.  If you like, please feel free to contact us with comments, questions, suggestions, or stories of what you did and how it went.


Contributors to this project:

  • Laurie Baise, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, MA
  • Kayla Burke, civil engineering student, Tufts University, Medford, MA
  • Miriam Gale, geology student, Tufts University, Medford, MA
  • Aliza Sandberg, civil engineering student, Tufts University, Medford, MA