Academic journal article Journal of Geoscience Education

School Yard Seismology

Academic journal article Journal of Geoscience Education

School Yard Seismology

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The Norwegian EduSeis initiative is foremost tied to deployment of a 3-component seismograph network in schoolyards nationwide. The operational quality of our own designed Cossack Ranger stations ($ 2000) match those of professional instruments thus providing adequate seismic recordings also for basic research. The obvious advantages here is that schoolyard installations ensure free Internet access for data transfer (in trigger mode) to a server at University of Bergen. This allows for timing to the nearest 20 msec removing the need for GPS clocks. To further reduce operational costs, we require that the schools themselves install a data logger and the seismograph. One project goal is to inspire science interests among students so we are concerned about learning psychology in a competitive high school environment. First convoluted mathematics and IT-intricacies are "hidden" in a flexible data base management system (DBMS) so as not to frighten students (and teachers) but providing easy Internet access to recordings in near real time. The DBMS also provides analysis tools for filtering, zooming, etc. so the goal is that students should be able to make epicenter locations and estimate magnitudes (Richter numbers) for local earthquakes even from home. We encourage and cooperate with seismological oriented School Project works, (sort of high school theses) which have proved popular with students and teachers alike. Just try it on http://pcg1.ifjf.uib.no/.

Keywords: EduSeis, school network, Internet access, interactive analysis, epicenter & Richter numbers, geoscience projects.

BACKGROUND

A general concern in many industrial countries is the lack of science interest among high school students which manifests itself in declining science enrollment in universities and lowered proficiency in mathematics and physics. The reason for this is simply that current high technology developments can not be sustained unless academia produce more and relative better scientists and engineers. A major problem here is the recruitment of talented youngsters to start academic careers and some science disciplines have launched special programs for courting high school students to enroll at their respective institutions/universities (Gollub and Spital, 2002). Well-known efforts are those in mathematics and young scientist's competitions on both national and international levels. Seismology and earth sciences are no exception in these courting ventures and the most widely quoted are the EduSeis and outreach programs in the USA. Several other countries have also launched similar programs and links to such efforts are easily found on the ORFEUS web page (http://orfeus. knmi.nl/).

In Norway, we are somewhat late in establishing an EduSeis (Educational Seismology)program and thus have the advantages of learning from mistakes and successes of our colleagues. These lessons are incorporated in our learning strategies presented in next chapter and then followed by a brief description of our 3-component (3C) Cossack Ranger seismograph installed in school yards in Norway (Figure 1). The data base system implemented and seismogram analysis tools adapted are also presented. The design principle of EduSeis Norway is simply to allow students and their teachers access to the wonderful world of seismology free of the rather involved mathematics and complex algorithms associated with the DBMS. Also, we hope to stimulate high school students by allowing them to participate in near real time of local seismicity and explosion activities.

PERSPECTIVE: PROSPECT OF SUCCESS FOR THE SEIS-SCHOOL PROJECT

Our SEIS-SCHOOL project started modestly with installation of a single Cossack Ranger seismograph at the nearby Aasane Gymnasium in November 2000. It worked and became instantaneously successful as a strong local earthquake was recorded a few days later leading to excellent media coverage of students and the school. …

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