High school's seismograph turns earthquakes into learning - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

High school's seismograph turns earthquakes into learning

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

TRUMANN, AR (KAIT) – Can you turn the events of the earthquake in New Zealand and the constant reports of tremors here in Northeast and Central Arkansas into a hands-on learning experience?

Trumann High School has its own seismograph and the information it brings in shows students earthquakes from all over the world and here in Region 8.

 The school used a grant to acquire the seismograph about four years ago.  Physics teacher Brenda Halfacre says it's the first thing she checks in the morning.

 Even though it looks quite simple, it is a highly sensitive piece of equipment. Student Ben Greer says it can pick up a shake from a long way off.

 "We had one in the Baja Peninsula, California and it was about a 7 to an 8.2."

 Instead of a drum with an ink stylus the quakes appear on a computer screen broken down into hourly increments.

Anthony Rusher keeps the "books" showing quakes recorded and documented over the years.

  Rusher said, "there are 3 books dating back to 2009.  Then we have a 2010 and one we started this year. We keep up with some of the major earthquakes across the United States and the really major ones from across the world."

 Rusher says the 2009 book was quite thin but 2010 made up for the quieter seismic year. But he says the real fun is chasing down the quake.

  "We use the technology that we have to find the time and date it occurred and then we use a national data base information source to find what earthquakes happened around that time" Rusher said.

 Mrs. Halfacre says the seismograph does more than just show quakes.

 "School and life are really connected and they can see what they hear on the news and read in the paper," she said.  "It is equipment with an application we use every single day. Not just something you use one time a year or twice a year or for a lab session."

 Ben Greer looks at the machine with a bit more of a scientific outlook.

 "This gives us an idea of the amplitude of wavelengths and basically troughs and crests," he said.

  It is global learning at it's best.

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