Kids Science Activities
Tin Can Seismograph

In these kids science activities you will be creating a seismograph using a tin can. The seismograph will record the waves traveling though a table or some other solid object.

Scientists used earthquake waves to discover the boundary between the crust and the mantle. They also used earthquake waves to discover the inner and outer cores of the Earth. After a major earthquake seismologists use at least three reporting stations to determine the epicenter of an earthquake.

Kids Science Activities, Tin Can Seismograph Photo Myrna MartinTin Can Seismograph


  • Large tin can
  • Sand
  • Rope
  • Tape
  • Pencil
  • White paper
  • Table


  1. Have an adult punch two holes in the tin can with a nail or can opener.
  2. Cut a piece of rope long enough to suspend the can from a ceiling so it will reach almost to the table top.
  3. If you cannot suspend the tin can from the ceiling make the rope long enough for someone to hold while doing this activity.
  4. Tape a pencil to the side of the tin can so it can record the vibrations during your "earthquake."
  5. Place a sheet of paper on the table.
  6. One person holds the tin can so the pencil tip just touches the table.
  7. One person moves the table back and forth or hits it gently with a solid object to simulate an earthquake.
  8. The third person pulls the paper as the pencil traces the table movement.
  9. Repeat the experiment with every person getting to hold the tin can, make the table move and pull the paper.

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  • Earth Science Learn about planet Earth, Rock Cycle, Volcanoes and many more topics on this website.


RC Igneous Rocks
ID Metamorphic Rocks

Check out Myrna Martin's award winning textbooks, e-books, videos and rock sets.  The Kids Fun Science Bookstore covers a wide range of earth science topics.  Click here to browse. 

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