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Case Study: EM SC 100S

Geosciences First Year Seminar

In this section of EM SC 100S, students worked in teams to communicate their research of a major earthquake. Early in the semester, the teams chose an earthquake to investigate and assigned roles to team members. Over the following weeks, they gathered information about their earthquake and began planning how to present their research as a five-minute video. As the planning progressed, they submitted first an outline, then a script, then a storyboard, a rough cut of the video, and finally the completed video.

Project in Brief

Course: EM SC 100S
Instructor: Eliza Richardson
Number of Students: 20
Semester: Fall 2011
Duration of Assignment: 6 weeks

Key Benefits

Students will complete this class with the ability to:

  • Understand earthquake disasters
  • Create media using Blabberize, Jing, and iMovie
  • Write computer programs
  • Use Web 2.0 digital media tools
  • Function as a Penn State student

They called upon these skills in the creation of their earthquake research videos.

Project Description for Students

Your group will design and produce a ~5 min video about your earthquake.

Here is a list of what your completed video will include.

Scientific details:

  • Location, time, magnitude.
  • Data plots if possible: seismograms, tide gauge records, gps, fault photos
  • At least one non-web scientific source

Social/historic details:

  • Casualties, cultural losses, political/social outcomes, photos,
  • At least one non-web source in this category

At least one digital media product from the group:

  • Blabberize
  • Google Maps
  • Jing
  • Processing program
  • Do Ink

All sources of information as well as borrowed images, figures, sounds. Important note: Copyrighted images and figures cannot be used if you wish to put your work online. This is PSU’s rule and a good one to follow anyway. This is something to keep in mind when you create your digital media product to go in the video.

Here is a list of the project deliverables.

  • List of sources: websites, articles, books
  • Outline: includes key points you will make, cast and roles, list of 3rd party media needed, list of student-produced media to be used
  • Script: dialogue listed by speaker
  • Storyboard: sequential list of shots
  • Rough cut: unedited audio and video – all elements there, but not necessarily polished or correctly timed.
  • Peer critiques: we will screen all the rough cuts of the videos in class and write critiques of each
  • Final video: suitable for YouTube or burning to a DVD

For the video, students will:

  • Research information on their chosen earthquake.
  • Receive Media Commons training of iMovie software.
  • Identify appropriate media tools and techniques for their chosen topics.
  • View and critique their peers’ videos in class.
  • Record, edit and publish videos to YouTube or DVD for evaluation and presented during class.

Download the Assignment + Rubric

Grading Process

The final project was worth 20% of the course grade. Students worked in groups of four to complete their videos. The final class session was a viewing party which included watching each group’s video and popcorn for everyone.

Projects were evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Accuracy of science and social/historical content
  • Inclusion of bibliography
  • Production value: Lighting, editing and audio
  • Completion of deliverables
  • Evidence of contributions by each team member

Download the Peer Evaluation


  • iMovie
  • Video camera
  • GarageBand
  • Jing
  • Blabberize


  • Researching topics
  • Information design
  • Brainstorming
  • Effective communication
  • Effective teamwork
  • Conveying information using multimedia

Target Skills

  • Researching
  • Storytelling
  • Writing
  • New media literacy
  • Differentiating information sources

(Instructor’s) Lessons Learned

“A major objective of the course was to help these incoming students become less naive about interacting with computers. Animations, YouTube videos, graphics that communicate effectively – these things don’t just happen.”