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.
Seismology offers unique opportunities to enrich earth science and physics curriculum. 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.
There are opportunities to include seismology in the classroom with or without a physical seismometer. Check out our Instructional Resources and jAmaSeis software which will bring earthquake concepts and real-time seismic data into your classroom!
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!