About the Boston College Educational Seismology Project

The Boston College Educational Seismology Project (BC-ESP) offers a unique opportunity for students and teachers to be directly involved with scientific research. This project uses seismology as a medium for inviting students into the world of science research. We operate seismographs in K-12 schools and colleges, and we provide curriculum resources based on seismograms of earthquakes recorded by the students. The BC-ESP curriculum, and the associated exercises described here, are a guided experience of the process of scientific inquiry that uses seismology and classroom seismographs as a medium for teaching students about how scientists investigate the natural world.

The essence of educational seismology is based on the fact that school seismographs can record earthquakes that occur at great distances from the school, and that the students can therefore investigate earthquakes they recorded from across the globe. Seismographs measure the pulse of the Earth, and provide direct information about earthquakes, plate tectonics, and the structure of the Earth’s interior. Thus, having their own seismograph in the classroom gives students a way of collecting real-world data and making measurements that help them to understand earthquakes, the internal structure of the Earth, and processes by which the Earth changes. The AS1 and EQ1 seismographs, which are the two types of classroom seismographs we use for the BC-ESP, are ideal for this purpose because they are affordable, record earthquakes quite well considering their low cost, and are relatively simple to install and operate.

The exercises associated with these in-class seismographs teach students not only about seismology and earthquakes, but also about geology, plate tectonics, volcanoes, and mountain building, as well as about how the forces of nature shape the Earth’s surface. Furthermore, this curriculum also teaches students about aspects of physics, such as energy, mechanics, and waves, and encourages a culture of inquiry in science, technology and mathematics education. We hope that you will find your own ways to use these exercises in your teaching, and that you will grow to appreciate as much as we do the value of seismology as a medium for teaching a wide range of topics in science, technology and mathematics for students of all ages.