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Outreach 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. 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 Space Sciences Laboratory, 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. We received a small 18 month grant in 1996 to initiate this project. Based on our success, we submitted a second proposal last fall 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/).

Over the past 18 months, 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. This represents a major change, as "Integrated Science" had been the previous paradigm. 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 1999, 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 A second workshop for new 9th grade teachers is planned for the fall of 2000.

One new component of this project is "Earth Science in the News". This monthly feature focuses on a current event, such as an earthquake, volcanic eruption, or recent news item. Earth Science in the News is designed to put the event in context, providing background information and related activities for the classroom. Topics covered this year include the music of earthquakes, the Mayon volcanic eruption, and survivors of the 1906 earthquake.

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 last year, 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, 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. 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.

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. The tour will go online in time for the start of classes this fall!

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.

The BSL hosted several special groups during 1999-2000. A number of TV/educational groups visited, including the Exploratorium and the Discovery channel. The meeting with the Exploratorium was part of their "Faultline project". Video clips of Drs. Gee, Dreger, and Uhrhammer were used on the resulting Web page.

In December, the Quanterra Users Group held their annual meeting an Berkeley and tour the BSL facilities. Later that month, the BSL was the site of the annual meeting of the Public Seismic Network. In April, the BSL was selected as the site of a "Bring your child to work day" tour.

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.

Quake 2000

The campus held an earthquake drill on May 25, 2000. The BSL worked with Tom Klatt, the campus emergency preparedness officer, to design a scenario earthquake. A magnitude 6.9 event on the southern Hayward fault was selected and the BSL put together a set of Web pages similar to those routinely put together following an event of interest. The Web pages included a press release, the aftershock probabilities, and maps. Drs. Doug Dreger, Asya Kaverina, and Lind Gee worked together to provide realistic information for the campus scenario, with a particular focus on predicting strong-ground shaking in the East Bay and on the campus. Dr. Dreger did calculations using a 3-D velocity model and produced a movie of the resulting ground motions. Dr. Lind Gee visited the emergency operations center established at the Tang Center and gave a briefing on the scenario. The resulting Web pages are available at

Cal Day

After a two-year hiatus, the BSL opened its doors on April 15 for Cal Day 2000. We showed off the new BSL facility with displays and demonstrations. Visitors learned about the seismic and geodetic networks, found out how many earthquakes occurred on their birthday, listened to earthquake sounds, played with the earthquake machine, learned about earthquake preparedness, and were given sample seismograms. Through the efforts of John Friday and Bill Karavas, two huge springs were strung from the 3rd floor balcony down to the ground floor. Visitors (especially children) were able to make P and S waves - and see them reflect and refract. Dr. Roland Bürgmann gave a walking tour of the Hayward Fault, Dr. Bruce Bolt gave a lecture entitled "What have the 1999 earthquakes in Turkey and Taiwan taught us?", and Dr. Doug Dreger participated in a panel discussion on "Turkey and Taiwan: What Devastating Earthquakes Can Teach Us".

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. Lind Gee contributed to the preparation of this chapter.

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