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Outreach activities

Lind Gee, Rick McKenzie, Robert Uhrhammer



This year a number of long-term projects in education and outreach came to fruition.

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. With funding provided by the Department of Commerce, the Berkeley Pledge, and corporate participants such as ATT, Pacific Bell, and IBM, the IUP partners are working with K-12 schools, community-based organizations, small businesses, public libraries, and other local groups.

As part of the IUP, the BSL, the Museum of Paleontology, the Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Astrophysics, and the Center for Particle Astrophysics have formed a science cluster called Integrating Science, Teaching, and Technology (ISTAT) with a focus on education in grades 6-12. Over the 18 months, the ISTAT group has worked with Gloria Davis Middle School, Mission High School, Thurgood Marshall High School, and Visitacion Valley Middle School in the San Francisco Unified School District and with Lowell Middle School in the Oakland Unified School District. Since earth sciences in California is taught primarily in grades 6-8, the BSL worked more closely with middle schools.

An important BSL contribution to ISTAT was the development of Web page A Teacher's Guide to Resources in Seismology. After reviewing curriculum from Mission High, Thrugood Marshall High, and Visitacion Valley Middle School, the web page was re-organized to group materials by curriculum content in order to assist teachers in finding material relevant for their classes. Topics include:

The purpose was to help teachers in their efforts to identify good resources in the vastness of the WWW. Thus, this page was updated and revised frequently - and continues to be actively developed. In addition to cataloging helpful web resources, this page provide references to useful books, maps and other materials for the classroom.

In addition to this general index, we developed several applications for the teachers:

Other resources expanded and developed as part of the ISTAT project include:

In addition to the development of these general resources, the BSL worked on specific projects in Gloria Davis Middle School and Lowell Middle School. At Gloria Davis, the BSL provided a REDI pager and the Qpager software for a classroom display. Teachers Mrs. Patricia Spencer and Mr. Clayton Jones incorporated the display into their classroom activities. Among other projects, the students wrote earthquake reports and practiced earthquake drills. At Lowell Middle School, the BSL worked with Mr. Caleb Cheung to sponsor a "Family Science Day". This activity brought 9th graders and their families to UC Berkeley for a half-day of science activities. Dr. Lind Gee worked with Dr. Pat Williams to develop a program which included a presentation on earthquakes and faults, a Web-based activity on the Hayward Fault, and a tour of the Hayward Fault on campus. Although the walking tour was marred by rain, the day was a great success.

In addition to our work with the ISTAT project, the BSL contributed to a "natural disaster" poster from Science World on the topic of earthquakes. It has a number of activities, including chart reading, graph reading, and some vocabulary exposure. The BSL contributed some figures displaying seismograms at various distance ranges and illustrating different wave types.

Science Museum Collaborations

During 1996, the BSL collaborated with the Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) during the visit of "Invention Adventure" - a LEGO-based travelling exhibit which featured an earthquake shake table. The BSL was invited to design display cases of relevant materials and worked with LHS to install a permanent REDI-CUBE display. Based on the success of this effort, the BSL is continuing to work with LHS on the development of earthquake displays. In March 1997, a preliminary proposal for the development an earthquake and volcano exhibit was submitted to NSF. It received favorable reviews and a full proposal was submitted in November to the Informal Science Education Program at NSF. If funded, the BSL will work with the Hall to develop "Restless Planet", a 7000 square-foot touring exhibit.

Over the last year, the BSL also worked with the California Academy of Science (CAS) and the Randall Museum. On April 18, 1998, the California Academy of Sciences opened "Earthquake: Are you ready for the Big One?". This new exhibit both expands and updates the previous CAS earth science displays. The centerpiece of the exhibit is a multimedia theater with shake tables that allow visitors to "experience" three earthquakes. The CAS is currently testing a REDI-CUBE display and anticipates incorporating this as part of the new exhibit.

The BSL also worked with the Randall Museum, a natural science museum of the City and County of San Francisco. They recently opened several new earthquake displays, including a recreation of a 1906 earthquake shack. The BSL contributed a seismograph to the Randall Museum and worked with their staff on aspects of the earthquake displays. The BSL also tested the Randall Museum as a potential location for a new BDSN site, but found the noise levels to be too high.

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, Caltech, College of the Redwoods, Humboldt State University, Sonoma State University, Stanford University (Blume Engineering Center, Department of Geophysics), UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, UC San Diego, and USC.

In addition to the seismicity displays, the BSL provides local waveform feeds for helicorders at several visitor centers associated with BDSN stations (ARC, CMB, MHC, and MIN). 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.


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.

One of the more unusual forms of outreach this year was the result of a collaboration between the BSL and Professor Ken Goldberg of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research. Dr. Goldberg and his student W. Matusik worked with Mr. Doug Neuhauser and Dr. Lind Gee on the development of a WWW interface displaying near-real time seismic data. "Momento Mori" ( is a Java applet which displays data from the vertical component STS-1 seismometer located at BKS in a manner reminiscent of a electro-cardiograph monitor. This mesmerizing display received a great deal of notice from the press and the public, and has been selected to be part of several Internet-based art exhibits.

In response to the popularity of our "Make Your Own Seismogram" web activity, we began offering "Quick Look Seismograms" ( this year. We have found that many people check our web site after feeling an earthquake and generate a current seismogram. The "Quick Look" web page offers 24-hour seismograms from six stations of the BDSN, updated every few minutes. By offering current seismograms, we have both reduced the load on our Web server and made it easier for users to access these data.

We are currently working on a new Java program to display real-time seismograms. Undergraduate Sheer El Showk is working on the development of a continuous helicorder-style display. The goal is to provide a new facility for our Web server and to replace the some of the actual helicorders still in use at the BSL.

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.

The ERA Program hosted its third conference on January 9, 1998. Entitled "Living on the Fault Line", the meeting was held in Sibley Auditorium of the Bechtel Engineering Center. The program included:

Over 80 people pre-registered for the conference and over 100 people attended. The audience represented a diverse group, including participants from a number of public and private agenices. We plan to host another conference next year.

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, Korea, and Japan. In addition to the usual tours, Drs. Romanowicz, Uhrhammer, Dreger, Gee, and Durek 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.

Cal Day

For the first time in several years, the BSL did not participate in UC Berkeley's Cal Day Open House on April 18, 1998. After assessing the impact of the McCone Hall renovation project on the potential activities, we decided that it would be too difficult to host open house activities this year. We look forward to participating next year in our newly renovated quarters!

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