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UCSB Earth Research Institute Project Scientist Recognized for Earthquake Education

Seale and NEES@UCSB Principal Investigator Jamison Steidl

Sandra Seale, project specialist and education and outreach coordinator for the George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake and Engineering Simulation (NEES) group at UC Santa Barbara, has been recognized for her “outstanding service in education, outreach, and training.” The award, which she received at the recent NEES 2013 Quake Summit, was for her efforts to bring earthquake awareness and education to the public.

“I really appreciate it,” said Seale, a civil engineer, who has been a project scientist with UCSB’s Earth Research Institute for the past five years. “We have been working hard on this and it has been growing, so it’s nice to get the recognition.”

Seale’s efforts have largely concentrated on a project dubbed “Make Your Own Earthquake” (MYOE), a hands-on learning tool built to teach K-12 students about the forces involved in an earthquake and the instrumentation used to measure these forces. By jumping, the participant generates the earthquake accelerations, which are measured by a nearby accelerometer. The information is then transferred to a laptop computer, which displays a trace of the “shake” that the student generated with their jumps.

Students are told to jump for 10 seconds as the equipment registers the acceleration generated by their movement.

In Seale’s time, the equipment has evolved from the expensive and complicated field gear, where measurements were recorded that took days or even weeks to analyze and return to the students, to a USB accelerometer, with software developed by NEES@UCSB and the Quake Catcher Network, that not only allows the students to walk away with a printout, but also made the module more readily available to schools outside of the UCSB area.

Due to current funding uncertainties at the federal level, Make Your Own Earthquake may no longer be a regular sight at local Santa Barbara elementary school science fairs. However, NEES@UCSB will be maintaining –– and even increasing –– its outreach by putting together an interactive exhibit at the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum which will feature, among other things, the MYOE module. The exhibit is anticipated to be completed within the next few months.

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