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Final Project submission for PEPP project class

submitted May 24, 2000

by Greg Small and Michael Kelley

We propose a web-based, real-time, interactive project between students from Harrison High School and other students around the world. The framework for this project is a student-developed website (Harrison High school AP Physics EARTHQUAKE WebQuest ) which will continue to be added to and improved over the coming years. We envision this website to be a dynamic reflection of both the PEPP project and our physics and earth science students. Our initial venture was a webquest, patterned after the rubric developed by Project EMPOWER, for which our school corporation received a technology grant in 1998. In the near future, we hope to add real-time data from other seismic information sites, videoconferencing, and joint projects with other schools.

In earth science, the PEPP hardware and software has been invaluable in integrating useful and interesting data into what used to be a fairly dry and academic section of the curriculum. Students are now able to view real-time seismic data, download data from the Internet, and review stored data on the hard drive, all without leaving the classroom. Students are able to interpret printed seismograms, distinguish earthquakes from mine blasts, and do triangulation exercises with data that are fresh and meaningful to them. As an added benefit, students are quick to notice unusual seismic activity on the computer monitor and ask about it, which prompts useful classroom discussion. In a couple of cases, students have noticed earthquakes happening in real-time on the screen, which we have been able to confirm by consulting with IU and NEIS. Minor earthquakes, which have happened nearby several times in the past two years, have served to increase student interest by providing additional relevance.

In physics, students developed the website referred to in the paragraph above, as well as conducting Fourier analysis and simple waveform calculations using data collected on-site. This has led to the next step in our plan for increasing student involvement in the PEPP project. In academic year 2000-2001, students in physics classes will learn to collect data and upload it to Princeton, but they will also be encouraged to develop research proposals and perform experiments using PEPP data. These projects will then be written up and submitted for publication, as well as demonstration at PEPP symposia.

The duties of the teachers will be two-fold: to supervise the projects, and to encourage a sufficient number of students to participate. While we can always count on two or three extremely motivated students to participate, it is our goal to have a different student responsible for data collection and analysis each week, and to have at least three suitable projects ready for submission for the next PEPP symposium in 2001. We also plan to submit grant proposals for additional hardware and software, including new computer equipment, accelerometers and force probes, and the aforementioned videoconferencing apparatus.

While much use has already been made of PEPP hardware, software, and data, we believe that we have only begun to realize the potential of this powerful tool for learning. We submit this report, recognizing that it is somewhat unorthodox in approach, but excited about the prospects for our students and for our school.

Michael Kelley and Greg Small

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