administration student task rubric student work technical quality
Earthquake Epicenter
Examples of Student Work

Grade 5-8 Performance Task
Contributed by: New York State Education Department (NYSED)
NYS Alternative Assessment in Science Project (1996)

Student #3


Using data in the chart below, the student will determine the location of the epicenter of an earthquake.


  • calculator
  • compass


When an earthquake occurs, scientists need to determine the location of its epicenter as soon as possible. The epicenter is the point on the surface of the Earth directly above the earthquake. Measurements from at least three seismographic stations allow scientists to locate the epicenter.


The data in the table are the delay times between the S and P waves from an earthquake to three stations (A, B, and C.)

1. Find the distance of each station from the earthwuake using the delay times between the S and P waves and the graph on the next page. Record these distances in the table.

2. Locate the epicenter of the earthquake on the map on the last page. Calculate and record your map distances in the table. Indicate the epicenter location with the letter X. The scale of the map is 1 cm = 300 kilometers.

3. In the space below, describe 3 procedures you used to locate the epicenter of the earthquake. Answer in complete sentences.

Figure 2


Previous Student Work


©1997-2005 SRI International. All rights reserved. Terms of Use