Seismometers in schools help education, professional scientists

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Cheyenne Middle School students Emmaline Ferguson and Austin Vinall demonstrate how the Raspberry Shake picks up data from students jumping on the ground.

Kayla McCullough

 Across Oklahoma, small earthquake-measuring technology is being put in primary schools to aid in the education of students and research for geologists.

A “Raspberry Shake” is a small computer/seismometer combination that is placed in a school or other public place and hooked up to a monitor. It then begins to record all the seismic activity it picks up and sends the data back to the survey, and shows the results in real-time. People walking by, jumping, or tapping near the device all show up on the monitor, which can be observed and analyzed by students.

Molly Yunker, Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Oklahoma Geological Survey, started the program in November to assist in education and expand seismic coverage. “There’s a lot of places in the state where we had no seismographic coverage,” Yunker said. “Sometimes the Raspberry Shakes are the only source of data for those areas.”

Jill Sullins, Gateway teacher at Cheyenne Middle School in Edmond, knows just how valuable this learning opportunity is for her students. “Any time you can get them excited about something, they’re going to do better, they’re going to try harder… it makes it interesting,” Sullins said.

Students are loving their chance to interact with the device. “I like that you’re able to not just rely on your phone to notify you when there’s an earthquake,” Cheyenne eighth grade student Emmaline Ferguson said. “You get to see the data popping up as it goes.”

Anyone can be a civilian scientist. If you’re interested in purchasing your own Raspberry Shake, it will set you back about $400.