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'Quake Trackers' meet at Victoria University

Secondary school Science teachers from Auckland to Wanaka will meet on Tuesday for a one day workshop at Victoria University. The teachers will learn more about the seismographs that are being installed at their schools as part of the ‘Quake Trackers’ programme.

‘Quake Trackers’, a joint initiative of Victoria University and the Institute of Geological Sciences, is a science education programme that enables school students to locate and analyse earthquakes in their area. It is sponsored by the Earthquake Commission.

The students operate their own seismographs and, through a central website, share their data with other students in New Zealand and overseas.

Victoria University Seismology Fellow and joint project leader Dr John Taber says one of the great things about the project is that it enables the University to share its expertise with the community.

"We see this as a really exciting way of educating the public and, importantly, raising awareness of earthquakes."

"It’s also a good way of promoting science to students," he says. "Encouraging students to record and analyse earthquakes is a practical, hands-on way of investigating the physical world. It also provides a context in which to learn about scientific principles."

Dr Taber says the programme combines real research with applied technology that is used professionally in New Zealand.

Since 1998 seismographs have been installed in nine schools around New Zealand. Plans are in place for the installation of 25 more over the next five years.

The University-run website allows teachers to download free curriculum materials and provides access to a growing earthquake database. It also contains information on how to prepare for and survive earthquakes, and details of the latest quake felt in New Zealand. Teachers at the workshop will receive extra training on the use of their seismographs and new teaching modules for use with the website.

Victoria University Wellington
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