6 schools to get earthquake seismometers

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February 24, 2016

The Earthquake Unit at the University of the West Indies will be installing seismometers in six schools across Jamaica, which will allow students, teachers and community members to get details about the force and duration of earthquakes as they occur.

The unit will be working in partnership with Fulbright scholar Katherine Ellins to establish the Jamaican Educational Seismic Network (JAESN), through which the project will be undertaken.

"By encouraging student learning and public involvement at the local community level, JAESN has the potential to greatly improve the emergency preparedness and response to geohazards (earthquakes, tsunamis and landslides)," Ellins said in a JIS News release.

She said that advances in technology, combined with the widespread use of social media and crowdsourced data, have improved real-time monitoring around the world and make "citizen science" projects, such as JAESN, possible.

Ellins explained that the JAESN educational seismometers are powerful tools that will offer students opportunities to learn how earthquakes are recorded and how modern seismometers work to collect and interpret and seismic data from strong earthquakes locally and around the world.

Additionally, the project will allow students to better understand and learn fundamental concepts in the geosciences, geography and physics, as well as develop key computational and mathematical skills. "All of this will serve them well, no matter what career they choose," the Fulbright scholar said.

Each seismograph station at the schools will receive an official designation and become part of an international educational network, the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology's Seismographs in Schools Programme, which serves educators around the world, using seismic instruments or real-time seismic data in secondary and undergraduate classrooms.

In the meantime, Ellins said a proposal which was made to the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management concerning support for public outreach activities on geo-hazards, including professional development for JAESN, geography, physics and mathematics teachers, has received a positive response.