|Observatories and Research Facilities for EUropean Seismology|
|Volume 6, no 2||December 2004||Orfeus Newsletter|
SISMALAB: an interactive laboratory for "learning by doing" in seismology and seismic riskLuciana Cantore1, Aldo Zollo1, Antonella Bobbio2, Flora De Martino3, Luigi Amodio3
1Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiche, Universitą di Napoli "Federico II"
EduSeis is an European-wide cooperative initiative which has been (up to now) financially supported only at a national scale (mainly in France, Germany, Portugal and Italy), with a small EU contribution ( Comenius - European Cooperation on School Education) to promote teacher's mobility and exchanges on teaching experience.
In Italy, the Department of Civil Protection has financially supported the EduSeis activities through the 2000-2004 Framework program of GNDT-INGV (National Group for Earthquake Defense, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, to develop communication tools aimed at increasng people's awareness about seismic risk and mitigation actions.
In the Italian program, which is part of an existing cooperation between the Science Centre "Cittą della Scienza" of Naples and the University of Naples, modern and advanced educational tools in Earth Sciences have been developed and implemented for didactic and information activities. The Campania region in southern Italy is characterized by intense seismic and volcanic activities. We find here active volcanoes (Mt.Vesuvius, Campi Flegrei caldera, Ischia island volcano) and active faults along the southern Apenninic chain with earthquakes. The relatively large population of around 5 million and recently improved risk prevention legislation in the Campania region make the seismic and volcanic risk a hot item. Among the different actions aimed at mitigating seismic and volcanic risk in the region, information and awareness about earthquake and volcano related hazards has received the highest priority. The EduSeis project is one of those information and awareness programs and has, as such, a significant impact on the prevention of the seismic risk.
This impact has been achieved in two ways: by involving students, teachers and their families in schools and by using museums to educate the general public. Within this framework and the EduSesis project the Science Centre "Cittą della Scienza" plays an important role as an institution specialized in the communication of science. The museum establishes an effective link between the scientific research communities, the schools and the general public using innovative educational training tools supervised by scientific personnel highly experienced in outreach activities.
One of these tools we developed is SISMALAB, based on EduSeis didactic products. SISMALAB is an interactive seismological laboratory at the Science Centre "Cittą della Scienza". Museum visitors and high school classes can with this lab under the guidance approach seismology and seismic risk problems and a set of activities involving seismic data analysis and interpretation.
Figure 1: The EduSeis network: The seismic network allows for the creation and development of a communication network facilitating the exchange of data, ideas and knowledge in Earth Sciences.
Some schools have bought their own instruments, others use temporarily
seismographs that are owned by the University of Naples "Federico II". Schools,
which do not have their own instrument, perform the educational activities
by accessing to data archive available from the project web site.
Figure 2: The EduSeis web site: Many section are available: The EduSeis Project; EduSeis Network; Data Base; Teaching; News; Links. Each section allows to choose more options.
The seismic data archive is the primary tool that teachers, researchers and students use for developing educational materials and carrying out didactic activities. The interactive software developed by Anthony Lomax for data viewing and preliminary analysis, has been implemented in the Eduseis web site and is used both on-line and off-line for seismogram analysis (filtering, picking, amplitude and polarisation measurements,...). The recorded seismic signals can be zoomed and displayed with the seismic signals from several other stations, different seismic wave arrival times can be picked and different band-pass filters are available to improve the seismogram analysis. From our experiences from several years of Eduseis activities we find that the interaction between teachers and researchers working on earthquakes is a key element for realising educative applications and developing high quality toold connected to seismology. Especially so as seismology covers a wide range of sciences (natural sciences, physics, mathematics, technology, civic education and so on). For instance, teachers and students obtained the required capabilities to manage seismic stations installed in the schools by experimenting with the educational material provided within EduSeis. All schools can practise data analysis of research seismological laboratory and learn about earthquakes origin and occurrence, volcanic eruptions and mechanism and Earth Sciences in general, using the EduSeis educational material available on EduSeis web site.
SISMALAB (Figure 3), an interactive lab, was build and implemented at the Cittą della Scienza in this spirit of experimenting with new approaches of formation/information on seismology and seismic risk. In this lab students, teachers and visitors can experiment with the research practice of a typical seismological laboratory. This involves, among others, analyzing seismograms of regional and teleseismic earthquakes recorded by the EduSeis network, picking the arrival times of primary body waves, measuring the signal amplitude and duration, locating the earthquakes and estimating their magnitude and potential damage effects in the source area. These activities are carried out in small groups of students and visitors accompanied by a guide and a help plan. Specialised personnel of the museum superve and animate these activities that are prepared in joint supervision by researchers, teachers and museum operators. In this lab school classes, teachers and museum visitors can test new didactic methods according to the basic idea of "learning by doing".
Figure 3: Science Centre's SISMALAB : A seismology laboratory for learning about earthquakes.
Figure 4: SISMALAB is an interactive lab inside the Science Museum where students, teachers and visitors can play and make experiments with earthquakes and seismology.
The graphic stations are installed on a wide rectangular table around which students take places during the activity. The back wall of the table houses a wide screen connected to the graphic stations. During the activities, the central screen is set as a multi-window display operated and managed by the school teachers or museum staff who are in charge of leading and supervising the seismological activity (Figure 5).
Figure 5: Didactic activities with SISMALAB.
Specific didactic activities have been created for SISMALAB that have as main topics earthquake location, to "observe and measure" seismograms, to estimate the earthquake magnitude and other related subjects (figure 6).
Figure 6: Wide band observation: local and teleseismic earthquake records.
Several java applets have been designed in addition to those developed by
Anthony Lomax to facilitate the analysis of seismological data. The
laboratory can host classes with a maximum of up to twenty-five students.
These are divided in five smaller groups. Each group will be experimenting
with the software to process seismic data. An assistant directs and
monitors the activity of each group, using the central screen. This
structure allows for a cooperative working and facilitates the exchange of
information among the students and teachers. Activities are generally
designed in a way that each group of students performs the same analysis
on different data sets (for instance, the picking of the first P and S
arrival times on different station records). The central screen allows the
students to look and discuss the results of their group with that of another
group and the teachers guiding them through the experiments.
Several accompanying actions are carried out to integrate the SISMALAB educational activity. At the seismological info point of the museum, the teachers and general public can meet experts,organise and prepare visits and excursions and work out programs for teaching activities in Earth Sciences. (Figure 7). Two editorial activities have started aiming at diffusion of the knowledge about the Earth Science (in particular Seismology and Volcanology) and the EduSeis project. One is an information booklet entitled "Earthquakes - How, where, when, why...", where you can find the answer to the most frequently asked questions about earthquakes and seismic activity. The other is a bimestrial electronic Newsletter.
Figure 7: Meeting and training space for teachers and museum visitors.
The SISMALAB Newsletter is an effective tool for quickly spreading informations about the EduSeis project, about the school activities and about the progress in seismological research. The magazine is a multimedial pedagogical product with 4 column: Didactics and popularization, Scientific debates, EduSeis network and EduSeis in the schools. Representatives of the scientific community and the school community have each a column. It is possible to request the Newsletter by sending an e-mail to Flora Di Martino (firstname.lastname@example.org).A study of a seismogram and Plotting earthquake epicenters.