Seismic Slinky!

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Did you know that a Slinky makes a handy model of earthquake waves? In this activity, learners use one or two of these simple toys to illustrate the different kinds of waves that transmit the energy of an earthquake outward from its epicenter. Move the slinky back and forth and create seismic primary waves, or P waves. Shake the Slinky up and down and notice a different type of wave traveling along. This activity requires two people.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • a Slinky (two if you have them)
  • a partner


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Earthquakes
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Wave Properties
      • Wave Motion

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment
  • Physical Activity
  • Toys


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access