IRIS Offers Lessons to Help STEM Educators Teach About Recent Earthquakes

Teachable Moments lessons, created by seismologists and educators, focus on recent earthquakes in Mexico and Haiti

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 8, 2021) — The Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) is providing free resources to help STEM educators teach about recent earthquake events, such as the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Mexico on September 8 and the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Haiti on August 14. These Teachable Moments presentations contain an explanation of the science of why the earthquake occurred, and often also includes Associated Press photos, animations, and other resources to help educators link the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to earthquake phenomena in a way that makes it relevant and engaging for students. 

“The Teachable Moments lessons help engage students in scientific inquiry and offer a critical connection to real-life events,” said Dr. Tammy Bravo, Seismology Outreach Specialist of IRIS. “By bringing knowledge, insight, and critical thinking to the classroom following a newsworthy earthquake, teachers are able to help students explore and analyze real event data, which helps to further spark their passion for science and STEM learning.”

Each Teachable Moment lesson consists of a downloadable and editable PowerPoint presentation, which is available in both Spanish and English and pertains to a specific earthquake. The lessons include interpreted U.S. Geological Survey earthquake information, plate tectonic and regional tectonic maps and summaries, concept animations, seismograms, damage photos, and other event-specific information and hazards.

The data in the lessons is generated within hours of each event. The presentations are prepared by seismologists and educators, are classroom-ready, and can be customized to fit the needs of students. IRIS also provides suggested questions that teachers can ask students who are using the lessons during distance learning.

Teachers can also use Teachable Moments as a jumping off point to explore other tools available on the IRIS Education and Public Outreach website that provide information about recent earthquakes such as live earthquake maps, station monitors, and more.

Teachable Moments are a service of IRIS Education and Outreach and the University of Portland.

To learn more about IRIS and access the Teachable Moments lessons, visit To sign up for notifications when new Teachable Moments lessons are available, click on the email or Facebook sign-up links at the top of the Teachable Moments webpage.

About IRIS

The Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), a university consortium with more than 125 U.S. member institutions and the operator of the National Science Foundation’s Seismological Facility for the Advancement of Geoscience (SAGE), is a world leader in advancing discovery, research, and education in seismology to understand our planet and to benefit society. The organization operates global seismic networks, portable seismic instrumentation, and data access facilities. Additionally, it provides free educational resources for faculty and teachers, students, and the general public, including lesson plans, animations, animated gifs, earthquake data, wave visualizations, several easy-to-use online applications, and much more.

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