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Earthquakes can capture the attention of students and inspire them to explore the Earth. The Incorporated Research Institutions in Seismology (IRIS) and Moravian College are collaborating to develop cross-platform software (jAmaSeis) that enables students to access real-time earthquake waveform data. Users can record their own data from several different types of educational seismometers, and they can obtain data in real-time from other jAmaseis users nationwide. Additionally, the ability to stream data from the IRIS Data Management Center (DMC) is under development. Once real-time data is obtained, users of jAmaseis can study seismological concepts in the classroom. The user interface of the software is carefully designed to lead students through the steps to interrogate seismic data following a large earthquake. Users can process data to determine characteristics of seismograms such as time of occurrence, distance from the epicenter to the station, magnitude, and location (via triangulation). Along the way, the software provides graphical clues to assist student interpretations. In addition to the inherent pedagogical features of the software, IRIS provides pre-packaged data and instructional activities to help students learn the analysis steps. After using these activities, students can apply their skills to interpret seismic waves from their own real-time data.

Background

Getting Started

What Educational Seismology has to offer One of the most exciting moments after installing a new seismic station in a high school classroom is recording an earthquake. Students leave their desks; teachers stop mid-sentence, as if the classroom beneath their feet were shaking! Earthquakes are a fascinating, powerful, and uncontrollable force that capture the attention of people young and old, and naturally lend themselves to engaging students in the classroom.

National Science Education Standards

Seismology offers unique opportunities to enrich earth science and physics curriculum. Beyond the specific content standards in earth science such as structure of the earth system, energy in the earth system and earth history, the national science education standards emphasize content standards in areas such as science and technology, science in personal and social perspectives, and the history and nature of science, all of which can be addressed with earthquake studies. The most engaging method to teach earth science is to involve students in questioning and problem solving. A seismometer in the classroom raises awareness of earthquake activity around the world and promotes student questions about earthquake location and frequency of events. At the 6-12th grade levels, real-time seismic data can be used to explore earthquakes, plate tectonics and its driving forces. In physics classrooms seismic data can be used to teach lessons on force, friction, wave propagation, and engineering design.

First step

There are opportunities to include seismology in the classroom with or without a physical seismometer. Check out our Resources page for more information! There are a number of companies selling educational seismometers. While IRIS does not recommend a particular instrument, check out the Seismometers page to see the options! We will be unable to offer a educational seismometer distribution and workshop this Fall 2012. We will not be accepting any new applications at this time. This is due to the continued difficulty in obtaining instruments. We are committed to this program, and we are searching for a solution that will allow us to continue to support our existing teachers. We hope to be able to reinstate our training program and instrument distribution soon.