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Making Waves at Schools’ Seismology Workshop

Published 26th Oct 2015 by Rebecca Walker

Science pupils and staff from two Yorkshire schools joined Fulneck Physicists for a day of specialist teaching and practical training on the science of earthquakes on Tuesday 29th September.

The Physics Department at Chamber member Fulneck School, which runs a thriving Seismology extra-curricular club, was delighted to welcome and share their expertise with 12 students from Years 8, 9 and 12 at The Grammar School at Leeds and 8 girls from Year 9 at Batley Girls’ High School, as well as their teachers. 16 Fulneck Year 9 students also participated in the event. The invitation was extended to schools participating in the Ogden Trust Partnership, a charitable trust set up to promote the teaching and learning of Physics. 

The Fulneck Seismology project is supported by Erasmus+, and the Physics Department works in partnership with three other schools in Europe (in Naples, Nice and Torquay). As part of that project, Fulneck physicists are involved in outreach activities which benefit other schools, and the student Seismologists had been preparing for this Workshop as part of their project. They developed the teaching materials and produced a lot of the equipment required to help teach aspects of Seismology to their peers. During the event, the students presented their work to their guests and also acted as team leaders for each group. 

In the course of the day long Workshop, the students and their teachers learned about different types of seismic waves, designing seismometers, locating earthquakes by triangulation and searching for patterns in where earthquakes occur. They also looked into discovering the frequency distribution of the different magnitudes of earthquakes. 

The British Geological Survey was represented by Mr Paul Denton (Manager of UK Schools Seismology Project) who talked to the students about possible careers in Seismology and what Seismologists do. He also outlined the different types of Seismology equipment and their development over the centuries. 

After lunch, the teams were tasked with making a model Seismometer using basic materials provided. They were also challenged to design a poster to convey their understanding of what they had learnt. 

The final presentation of the day was by guest speaker Jurgen Neuberg, Professor of Physical Volcanology at Leeds University, who explained and gave examples of Volcano Seismology. The teams’ posters were judged by Professor Neuberg, Mr Denton and Principal Mrs Newman, and a team from Batley Girls’ High School was declared the winners. Their prize was a TC1 Seismometer to take back to their school.

Principal Mrs Newman said of the event: “We are delighted to have been joined today by so many young scientists keen to further their understanding of this subject. Today’s Workshop is a prime example of the cutting edge science in which our students are engaged at Fulneck School, and I am very proud of their involvement in hosting and presenting their knowledge and expertise at this event. I hope that as a result of their experience today, our visiting students will be motivated into studying Physics and Science in general at A level and beyond.”

Professor Neuberg added: “Such an event broadens the horizon of the students involved. They realise that studying Physics and Maths can lead you to an exciting career. I felt that I have met some of tomorrow’s scientists during this event. “

The Fulneck Seismologists will be continuing their participation in the Erasmus+ Seismology project with a residential visit to their partner school in Nice in October. They will then host the next event for the four participating schools at Fulneck in the Spring term.


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