2004 Visits to Educators Running Seismic Stations

IRIS (The Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology) runs an Education and Outreach Program ( http://www.iris.edu/about/ENO/ ) to which the USGS contributes its expertise.  Under the School Seismographs program, IRIS has given away more than 80 seismic systems to educators. This is important, because in order for the public to support the mitigation strategies that are deemed most effective, based on the research carried out by the USGS Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, every citizen needs to have a basic understanding of how the Earth works and the inevitability of future earthquakes.

Why Put Seismographs in School Now?

Due to recent advances in computer technology, today it is no more difficult to purchase and operate a seismograph station than it would be to equip a biology classroom with microscopes or a chemistry classroom with lab equipment.  Seeing earthquakes recorded on their "own" school instrument, an instrument that they can operate and understand, is far more interesting to students than simply finding a similar seismogram on a web site.  This is an effective "hook" to get their attention, especially when a newsworthy
event has been recorded.

There are aspects of many subjects, including general science, physics, and mathematics, that are required by the current Education Standards and for which seismology provides an exciting and interesting context.  Thus, topics that are already required can be integrated with seismology and earth science to achieve a better understanding of both.

Spring/Summer Trip

From early April through early June, my wife and I took a long car trip around the western US. Along the way, we stopped and visited seven educators who have received seismograph equipment provided by IRIS.

The first stop was Winslow, Arizona, to visit Winslow High School science teachers Norm Arnald and Eric Mendt.  We discussed their instrumentation and I provided information on some new educational web resources.  The next stop was Sunset Crater Volcano Visitor Center north of Flagstaff, Arizona, where I helped to install a seismic system that allows visitors to see how their own footsteps can be detected by a seismometer provided by the USGS.

Norm Arnald and Eric Mendt, Science Teachers at Winslow, Arizona, High School, with their IRIS AS1 seismic system.
Sunset Crater Volcano Visitor Center

Sue Fischer, Paul Legris, Gary, and John set up seismic "jump" station.

John Bland and Bill Hudson at
Sunset Crater Volcano.
On June 15, 2004, Sue wrote:

"We have encountered an unanticipated problem with the Jump Station."

"Today a kid was jumping away having a great time, ran around the building a couple of times, came back and jumped some more, ran around again, came back and jumped again, then threw up his lunch. Fortunately, he didn't hit any equipment."


At Valley Oak Elementary School in Davis, California, I spoke to Bill Storm's sixth grade class and a reporter about using their new AS1 instrument to record earthquakes.  
  April 27, 2004.  The Davis Enterprise Local


At the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, located at Fort Worden State Park, Washington, I helped to set up a new seismic system. 

Anna Brownstein, Libby Palmer and Judy D'Amore with their new AS1 seismic system.

Port Townsend Marine Science Center, located at Fort Worden State Park, in Port Townsend, Washington.


Next stop was Briarcrest Elementary School, Shoreline, Washington, where I spoke to a sixth-grade class.

Sixth-grade teacher Dennis Griner and  "STAR" student, Sara Mondragon, with their earthquake map.


At Twin Falls, Idaho, I helped Jo Dodds solve some technical problems with her instrument and get it running for the first time.


One of the highlights of these visits was to the Kids Zone in Depoe Bay, Oregon.  The Kids Zone is a community-supported, free, after school program where children can learn and play in a safe environment. Kay and Steve Wyatt run the "Science Wednesday" program and with their experience in oil exploration have focused the activities on geology and geophysics.  I spent two full days there helping Kay and Steve set up their new seismic system, learning about their program, speaking to their students, and having the students give me a show & tell about all they had learned so far.  They even have a web site where their seismic data is posted in real-time at http://depoebaykids.com/ .

Depoe Bay's Kids Zone.
In this picture I'm showing Kids Zone students Chyyanne Miller and Marcos Garcia (back row) and Javier Jimenez and Harley Seward (front row) how the AS1 seismic system works.
See the real-time display of the Depoe Bay seismogram.  

All of these visits were quite rewarding both personally and professionally.

Summary in PDF format of this trip from the January, 2005, issue of the Department of Interior publication "People, Land, and Water.

(More AS1 Information)

September-October School Visits