I wanted to give you a heads-up about a site that offers a chance for students to do some real science. The Quake-Catcher Network offers a chance for you and your students to actually be a part of an earthquake detection network. The web site also includes science resource downloads about earthquakes, including PDFs aimed at grades K-12.
What It Is
QCN is a project initiated by Dr. Elizabeth Cochran, a seismologist at U. Cal. Riverside that uses laptop and desktop computers, often located in classrooms, to detect seismic events. You and your students can easily sign up to be a part of the network, download the free software, and contribute to real scientific research! What a great way to get students interested in science!
How It Works
Most modern laptops have a built-in motion detector, intended to automatically lock the hard drive if the laptop is dropped. But this detector can also be used to report earth movements, if that laptop is connected to the internet. All that’s needed is the reporting software, which you can download free!
While desktop computers do not have motion sensors built in, you can add a USB-connected sensor available from the Quake-Catcher website and still be a part of this exciting educational opportunity. In fact, the attached sensors on desktop computers, since they aren’t within the computer, work even better! Either way, having many computers reporting in online creates the network.
The reporting software works invisibly in the background, when the laptop is not being used, and reports in online. This doesn’t take any class time. A Community section on the website summarizes results and lets students see their reports and those of the rest of the network.
Even More Earthshaking
The QCN web site has some exceptionally easy to understand explanations about earthquakes. For example, one illustration demonstrates how a fault moves using a pair of hands to illustrate the motion. There are also easy experiments you can conduct once you have the software reading your built-in or attached sensor. Whether it’s natural or man-made shaking going on, you’ll be recording it!
Besides the reporting software, there is free interactive software to download which you can use to conduct the experiments. Lesson plans carry students through these experiments to learn more about earthquakes. There is also a set of related links that lead to even more information and downloadable science materials.
Application needed: Web Browser, freeware from site.
Subject area: Science.
Level: Grades 1-7.
CLICK HERE to join the Quake-Catcher Network, download interactive educational software, or download any of several PDF resources.