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Tairāwhiti students poised for earth movements

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Students from five Tairāwhiti schools will get a chance to bring science to life in the coming weeks and months as they wait for the earth to move.

Scientists from GNS Science have installed educational seismometers in Te Waha o Rerekohu Area School, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Horouta Wananga, Te Karaka Area School, Tolaga Bay Area School and Ngata Memorial College, so students can monitor and study earthquakes in New Zealand and overseas.

Julian Thomson from GNS Science said the project would give students an insight into the country’s earthquake activity, and how scientists make use of these instruments to understand it.

“These monitoring tools provide an opportunity to teach with real-time data and real-world examples,” Mr Thomson said. “Nothing captures students’ attention quite like seeing the waves created by a distant earthquake just before or even during class, so this project really enhances their learning experience by seeing science in action.”

“The schools have also appointed ‘guardians of the seismometer’ – students tasked with regularly checking the tools for recent earthquakes – which gives them a sense of ownership and involvement with the project.”

Mr Thomson said the seismometers were connected to , an online school seismometer network, set up by University of Auckland scientists Dr Kasper van Wijk, Dr Ludmila Adam, and Dr Dan Hikuroa.

“This network allows students to see their own data alongside screen shots from seismometers at schools around the country, giving them a rich source of information and plenty of fodder for learning opportunities.”

Mr Thomson said comparing how a single earthquake is recorded at different locations is the key to finding where an earthquake originated and how powerful it was.

Many of the earthquakes felt in the Tairāwhiti region are related to the Hikurangi subduction zone, New Zealand’s largest and most active plate boundary fault.

Four of the seismometers were funded by the Eastland Community Trust, with hardware supplied by University of Auckland and GNS Science.

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