QuakeKit: Investigating earthquake science and technology

We haven’t been able to get out and about as much as we would have liked to this year. However, we were fortunate enough to take to the road recently with our friends at QuakeCoRE as part of the QuakeKit roadshow – a collaboration between AF8, University of Canterbury and QuakeCoRE, made possible with funding from MBIE’s Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund.

QuakeKit Roadshow Schools Map

QuakeKit: Investigating earthquake science and technology aims to inspire scientific inquiry and demonstrate the relevance of science and technology in understanding and preparing for earthquakes. It builds on the activities and science shared through the AF8 Roadshow: The Science Beneath Our Feet in 2019, offering an opportunity for students to further explore current earthquake hazard and impact science relevant to them and their region, by sharing information, tools and activities to teach and increase resilience.

Over four weeks the QuakeKit roadshow visited 12 schools around the South Island, first installing a seismometer at each and then following up with hands-on activities with students to share some of the science and technology used to help us be better prepared for earthquakes.

Seismometer installation

Each school had a seismometer installed in September. The seismometers are provided by Canterbury Seismic Instruments and are connected to their Sentinel app, which will let the school and local emergency managers know if the school is safe or if it should be evacuated immediately following an earthquake.

Assessing buildings following large seismic events takes time, having access to realtime information about their building gives schools and emergency managers an indication on if they can stay in the building or if they need to evacuate.” – Brandy Alger, QuakeCoRE Engagement Coordinator.

QuakeKit roadshow

After the seismometer installation, the QuakeKit team visited the schools. They talked about the Alpine Fault and why we have earthquakes and then ran hands-on activities designed to encourage problem-solving, show how the seismometers work and share some of the science and technology used to increase our structural resilience to earthquakes in New Zealand.

 

A soil testing demonstration was also carried out during the lunch break enabling students to see how this research is carried out in the field and have a go, if they would like to. The testing involved using a sledge hammer to hit a rubber plate and create mini earthquakes. Sensors placed in the ground pick up the waves underneath and show how fast the waves move through the ground which can tell us what kind of soil, gravel, or rock is near the school.

This testing helps engineers understand how the school will react in an earthquake. Students are able to give the testing a go and use the sledge hammer to hit the ground and see their waves move through via the sensors.

The QuakeKit roadshow is designed to equip students and their communities with the knowledge and interest to engage in the latest earthquake science and technology, and enable communities to use this knowledge to be better prepared.

“By supplying seismometers and hands-on learning activities, we aim to encourage young people to learn more about earthquakes, how they affect specific regions and give them the chance to apply this knowledge – perhaps inspiring them to study, work in and contribute to New Zealand’s resilience to earthquakes in the future.” – Alice Lake-Hammond, AF8 Programme Lead.

 

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