Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning


Earthquakes in Oklahoma

Cacey Wells, Lindsey Link, Teresa Lansford, Cacey Wells | Published: March 28th, 2022 by K20 Center


Students will look at the increase in seismic activity in Oklahoma and around the United States in recent years. Some say the earthquakes are a direct result of an oil and gas process called hydraulic fracturing, while others disagree. Students will investigate this question for themselves and formulate their own hypotheses.

Essential Question(s)

How are humans impacting Earth's systems? What effects are these impacts having on the citizens of Oklahoma?



Students seek to answer the essential questions by tapping into their previous knowledge to compile a word cloud.


Students explore a variety of sources in a Wakelet and seek to answer several guiding questions as a group.


Students watch an ICAP video featuring Jake Walter, a geologist working with the Oklahoma Geological Survey.


Students Jigsaw a set of short articles to learn about Fracking, the Economic Impact of Fracking, the Environmental Impact of Fracking, and why the number of earthquakes seems to be decreasing in Oklahoma.


Students complete an Exit Ticket to synthesize what they have learned about how scientists approach a problem.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Student Readings (attached; enough copies so that each student receives one of the four readings)

  • Exit Ticket handout (attached; one per pair of students)

  • Highlighters (optional)

  • Pens or pencils

  • Student devices with Internet access


10 Minute(s)

Begin the lesson by sharing slides 3-4, presenting the lesson objectives and essential questions to the extent you feel necessary.

Encourage students to tap into previous knowledge and their own experiences to guide their upcoming learning. Move to slide 5 and introduce the Collaborative Word Cloud strategy. Have students use the Mentimeter link to respond to the following questions:

  • How do earthquakes impact the people in Oklahoma?

  • What do you think is the cause of Oklahoma’s earthquakes?

Share the word clouds with the class and take some time to discuss students’ responses.


20 Minute(s)

Move to slide 6 and share the Wakelet link. The Wakelet features maps, graphs, videos, and readings. Instruct students to consider the following questions as they explore the resources:

  • What do you notice?

  • What is happening?

  • Are there any trends? If so, are they positive? Negative?

  • What is contributing to the earthquakes?

  • Which year was there a spike/sharp increase?

  • What do you believe is the cause of the earthquakes?

  • What do you think will happen if there is an increase in fracking?

  • What is your prediction for five years from now? Why?

Once students have had sufficient time to explore on their own, bring them back to a whole-group discussing and go through the questions together. Optionally, bring up the word cloud from the previous activity and ask students if there are any words or phrases they would like to add after having completed their exploration.


25 Minute(s)

Display slide 7 and explain to students that the work they have done with exploring the data and trying to determine a root cause of earthquakes is similar to what geologists do in the field. Play the ICAP - Quakeland video interview with Jake Walter, a geologist working with the Oklahoma Geological Survey. In the video, Walter shares insight into his career and discusses earthquake activity in the state of Oklahoma.

After watching the video, take some time to debrief with students through a class discussion about the main points that were addressed. Consider using the POMS: Point of Most Significance strategy to help frame the discussion.


60 Minute(s)

Display slide 8 and introduce the Jigsaw strategy. Divide students into four groups and pass out copies of one of the attached readings to each group:

  • Student Reading 1: Fracking in North Dakota (Fracking Background)

  • Student Reading 2: Fracking in North Dakota (Economic Impact)

  • Environmental Impact

  • Student Reading 4: Earthquakes Continue To Decrease in Oklahoma for the Third Straight Year

(Each student in the group should have a copy of the same article.)

Instruct students to read the articles individually and highlight any information that stands out to them as important that they will want to share with the group. After they have had ample time to read and gather their thoughts, move to slide 9 and have group members work together to discuss what they learned and synthesize what they want to share with the rest of the class.

Divide students into new groups of four so that each person in the new group has read a different article. Move to slide 10 and students take turns sharing with their new groups what they have learned from their reading.


25 Minute(s)

Display slide 11 and pass out the attached Exit Ticket. Have students reflect on their learning and respond to the three questions.

  1. What have you learned about how scientists approach a problem?

  2. How do earthquakes impact people in Oklahoma?

  3. What do you think is the cause of Oklahoma’s earthquakes?

Collect the Exit Tickets to assess students’ learning at the end of the lesson.