Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content


Earthquakes Lesson Plan

The Earthquake Response Lesson Plan provides teachers and students with an opportunity to investigate the 1989 Newcastle earthquake through individual or classroom activities.

This lesson challenges students to learn more about earthquakes by asking them to:

An Assessment Guide for teachers is also included within this lesson plan.

Key Learning Areas

The Key Learning Areas (KLAs) for this lesson plan include:

  • Literacy
  • Study of Society and Environment (SOSE)
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
  • Science


The objectives of this lesson plan are to ensure that students are able to:

  • know the steps to take in the course of an earthquake.
  • recall most or all of the information learned on how to protect themselves and survival in an earthquake.
  • understand the cause and effect of earthquakes.
  • be assessed on their learning and knowledge of earthquakes.

Please note: This lesson can be modified to incorporate other KLAs and to meet the needs of the students and specific content taught.

The Newcastle Earthquake

Australia's sixth largest city, Newcastle was devastated by an earthquake at 10.27am on the 28th December 1989. The earthquake measured 5.6 on the Richter scale and was the first earthquake in Australia to cause death and destruction - 13 people died, more than 160 people sustained injuries and over 10,000 buildings in Newcastle suffered damage.

Get the Facts

Students can get the facts on the Newcastle earthquake by using these resources:

General information of earthquakes and survival

Newcastle earthquake information

Take Time to Investigate!

Students can investigate the earthquake individually, in pairs or groups to find the answers to the following:

1) What is an epicentre? Where was the epicentre in this earthquake?
2) What are the main causes of earthquakes? What was the cause of the Newcastle earthquake?
3) How far away from the epicentre was the earthquake felt?
4) What is the measurement used for earthquakes? How does this scale work?
5) How did the emergency services react to the earthquake?
6) How different would it have been if it wasn’t school holidays when the earthquake struck?
7) What else could be done to prevent people from dying in earthquakes?

Assessment Guide

Teachers can assess with questioning, through direct observation or by marking the presentations of individuals or groups.

Begin a discussion with the class about how they would recognise that an earthquake was occurring. You can then assess student’s learning of surviving an earthquake by dividing the class into groups.

Students can break into groups to discuss how they could react when they are:

  • at school
  • at home
  • at the shops
  • outside on the street or in the park
  • in the family car
  • on the bus
  • on a boat or ferry.

Allow some time for each group to discuss how they would react to their situation in order to survive and assist others before they present their findings.

Teachers can also observe individual participation in each of the groups as they present their responses.


Top of Page