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Outreach and Educational Activities



The BSL is involved in a variety of outreach activities, ranging from lectures and lab tours to educational displays and the development of classroom materials for K-12 teachers. We maintain an earthquake information tape (510-642-2160) and an extensive set of Web pages, providing basic earthquake and seismic hazard information for northern and central California.

Interactive University Project

The BSL is collaborating with a number of UC Berkeley departments and organized research units to coordinate education and outreach activities through the Interactive University Project (IUP). The goal of the IUP is to foster the use of the Internet and other examples of "information infrastructure" to provide community service.

As part of the IUP, the BSL, the Museum of Paleontology, the Space Sciences Laboratory, and the Center for Particle Astrophysics formed a science cluster called "Integrating Science, Teaching, and Technology" (ISTAT) with a focus on education in grades 6-12. We received a small 18 month grant in 1996 to initiate this project. Based on our success, we submitted a second proposal in 1998 and received funding for a 3 year project with Gloria Davis Middle School, Horace Mann Academic Middle School, Galileo High School, Mission High School, and Thurgood Marshall Academic High School in the San Francisco Unified School District (http://www.UCMP.Berkeley.EDU/IU/).

During this project, we have worked with lead teachers to review the new San Francisco science and math standards and to identify "gaps" between existing resources and materials and the required content. San Francisco has recently adopted new textbooks with the goal of teaching Earth and Space Sciences in the 9th grade. We are working with the teachers to develop a working outline for the curriculum and to supplement the text with activities and resources. In November 2000, Dr. Gee worked with approximately 20 9th grade science teachers in a workshop sponsored by the San Francisco Unified School District. As well as introducing the teachers to the draft curriculum, the workshop provided teachers with the opportunity to learn more about earthquakes, to test out classroom activities, and to experiment with using technology in the classroom. IRIS provided supporting materials for the workshop, including posters, maps, and copies of Tremor Troops and Seismic Sleuths.

The draft Earth science curriculum now includes a scope and sequence, course outlines for 6, 9, and 12 week modules, and preliminary assessment materials and is available on the Web at

During the workshop in November, one of participating teachers suggested adding modules for Meteorology. This teacher joined the ISTAT team in January 2001 and has worked with them to produce a Meteorology scope and sequence. This effort is still underway, but will be wrapping up over the next few months.

Educational Displays

As part of the BSL's outreach activities, we have made REDI earthquake data available to a number of universities, colleges, and museums as educational displays. As noted above, this year marked the expansion of this program to the K-12 environment. Participating organizations receive a REDI pager and the Qpager software to display the earthquake information. The Qpager program maps the previous seven days of seismicity, with earthquake shown as a dot. The size of the dot indicates the magnitude of the event, while the color of the dot indicates its age. These educational displays have been installed at UC Berkeley (McCone Hall, Earthquake Engineering Research Center, LHS), California Academy of Sciences, CSU Fresno, CSU Northridge, CSU Sacramento, Caltech, College of the Redwoods, Fresno City College, Humboldt State University, San Diego State University, Sonoma State University, Stanford University (Blume Engineering Center, Department of Geophysics), UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, UC San Diego, and USC. In a pilot project initiated two years ago, the San Francisco Unified School District has been given two pager systems for use in middle school classrooms.

In addition to the seismicity displays, the BSL provides local waveform feeds for helicorders at several visitor centers associated with BDSN stations (ARC, CMB, and MHC). Organizations such as LHS, KRON, and KPIX receive feeds from BKS via dedicated phone lines for display, while the USGS Menlo Park uses data from CMB for display in the lobby of the seismology building. The BSL has also loaned a seismometer and helicorder display to the San Leandro Unified School District for their use in science classes.

As community outreach, BSL donated, installed and interfaced a retired short-period seismometer to Lake Tahoe Community College. The helicorder display with acknowledgment of the BSL is prominent in the student lounge area.


Over the last year, we have continued to expand our presence on the WWW. Our primary goal has been to provide a source of earthquake information for the public, although we also provide information about the networks, such as station profiles, which benefits the research community as well. We provide such information as seminar schedules, course advertisements, descriptions of operations and research, updates on recent earthquake activity, details on Bay Area seismicity and hazards, and links to other earthquake and earth science servers. We also use the WWW server for our own information distribution, with such details as the computing and operational resources, rosters, and schedules for various purposes.

Our newest feature is a virtual tour of UC Berkeley, emphasizing the geology of the campus. The tour is based on materials put together for Geology 20 and 50. Undergraduate Lisa Krain has photographed campus buildings and designed the layout of the Web pages. A revised and updated version of the Hayward Fault Web pages is currently under development.

Tours and Presentations

BSL staff have also spent considerable time with public relations activities during the past year. Several tours are given each month, with audiences ranging from middle-school students to scientists and engineers from China and Japan. This year, we saw a sizeable increase in visits from "home-school" students.

The BSL hosted several special groups during 2000-2001. A number of TV/educational groups visited, including the BBC and CNN. The meeting with CNN was focused on filming segments for "AskCNN" and video clips of Dr. Gee were used on TV and the Web. In November, a tour of the BSL facilities was part of a FEMA-sponsored summit with Japan on earthquake hazard mitigation.

In addition to the tours, Drs. Romanowicz, Dreger, Uhrhammer, and Gee presented talks on earthquakes and related phenomena to public groups. The staff routinely answers questions about earthquakes and seismic activity in response to inquiries from the public. In response to our WWW server and the phenomenal growth of the Internet, we have experienced an enormous volume of questions via e-mail in the last year.

Open House Activities

The BSL was unable to participate in Cal Day this year, due to a scheduling conflict with the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America. The BSL did hold an open house several days later during "Take Your Child to Work Day" and hosted many UC Berkeley parents and their children. The visitors learned about UC Berkeley's role in earthquake monitoring, found out how many earthquakes occurred on their birthday, played with an "earthquake machine", made P and S-waves, learned about earthquake preparedness, and were given sample seismograms.


In January, the BSL hosted a UC multi-campus workshop on earthquake science. This one-day meeting featured participants from 7 of the 10 UC campuses and all 3 of the affiliated laboratories. The focus of the meeting was to identify areas of earthquake related research where UC effort could be leveraged in integrated activities. The outcome of the meeting was the SAFERCal proposal to the UC Regents' Research Initiative program, submitted collaboratively by eight UC campuses (Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz) and the three labs (Berkeley, Livermore, and Los Alamos). SAFERCal was selected at all 8 campuses and labs to move forward to the Regents for review and final selection. The unusual situation in the budget of the State of California this year restricted the number of initiatives to be funded under the UC Regents' program to only one, and priority was given to energy related proposals.

Earthquake Research Affiliates Program

The UC Berkeley Earthquake Research Affiliates (ERA) Program is an outreach project of the BSL, the Department of Geology and Geophysics, and the Earthquake Engineering Research Center. The purpose is to promote the support of earthquake research while involving corporations and governmental agencies in academic investigation and education activities such as conferences and field trips. The ERA program provides an interface between the academic investigation and practical application of earthquake studies.


Under Barbara Romanowicz's general supervision, and with Lind Gee as head guru, Bob Uhrhammer, Rick McKenzie, and many other faculty, staff, and students at the BSL contribute to the outreach activities. Lisa Krain has helped with the upkeep and development of new web pages. Lind Gee contributed to the preparation of this chapter.

next up previous contents
Next: Ongoing Research Projects Up: Operations Previous: Data Archive and Distribution:   Contents

Berkeley Seismological Laboratory, 202 McCone Hall, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-4760
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