Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Six schools to get earthquake equipment

Published:Wednesday | February 24, 2016 | 2:00 AM

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.

She said advances in technology, combined with the widespread use of social media and crowd-sourced 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 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 geohazards, including professional develop-ment for JAESN, geography, physics and mathematics teachers, has received a positive response.