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Using PEPP with Physics and Earth Science Classes

Jeff Sayers



This activity assumes that your school has an operating PEPP system and that students in physics and earth science classes are involved to some degree in learning about seismology, either in a formal unit or through activities integrated into the classes. The purpose of this outline is to suggest some things that might be done to encourage the development of a successful PEPP program at your school. The PEPP team ideally will have participation by teachers in both physics and earth science. Teachers from the two areas should share resposibility for operation of the PEPP station.


  1. To create a core of students to assist in the PEPP data management process.
  2. To stimulate student interest in PEPP and seismology by engaging as many students as possible in the analysis of data collected at Northview, by Northview students, or data obtained from other sources when appropriate.
  3. To promote interaction between Physics and Earth Science classes.
  4. To create public awareness of PEPP by presenting a PEPP display that is readily visible to many people and to publicize PEPP activities through newspapers and TV.


PEPP Seismometer

Computer suitable for running PEPP software

Printer to print seismograms

Data storage (e.g., zip disks, floppy disks, CD-R)

SCREAM (preferred) or Quakes data accquisition software

GCFInfo (used with SCREAM) software to cut PEPP files

SWAP or WinQuake software to analyze PEPP files

Large laminated world map



  1. Form a PEPP seismology team.< /LI>
    1. Accept volunteers from students in Physics and Earth Science classes but limit the total number of participants to a manageable figure. NHS started with 21.
    2. Divide the volunteers into teams of 5-7 students. Include students from each class as much as possible.
    3. Choose a captain for each team. The captain will be given resposibility for running a team.
    4. Discuss the aims of the PEPP program with the entire team and provide an

introduction to basic ideas about earthquakes and seismology. Expect that

students will learn more from the operation of the station and from later formal instruction.

  1. Create a seismic station
    1. Locate the monitor displaying the seismometer signal in a location where it is
    2. easily observable and can be accessed easily by team members and yet remain secure. A classroom or hallway display case work well.

    3. Assign team captains to design a display to identify and publcize the seismic

station. Use posters, diagrams, photos etc. Involve many team members.

  1. Train the teams
    1. Train the team captains to use the PEPP software. Each captain should be
    2. comfortable with all aspects of handling the data from the seismometer. They should be able to: download SCREAM (or Quakes)data to disk; get earthquake information from DRMs or USGS sources; use GCFInfo to examine data for events, cut files and save in PEPP format; print seismograms from GCFInfo; open PEPP files in SWAP or WinQuake, print seismograms, and begin to identify features such as P and S waves.

    3. Assist the team captains in training the members of their teams. Try to make

the captain the primary trainer as much as possible. Student involvement is a prim ary goal.

  1. Operate your seismic station
    1. Assign each team specific blocks of days on which they are resposible for
    2. downloading data, checking for events, etc. The team captain should be responsible for working out a daily schedule with the members of their team.

    3. Keep a written log book so that there is a written record of what is done each

day and who does it. Save all identified earthquakes in a designated file. Print and label seismograms for each identified event. Archive the daily data records as you wish. Monitor the students activities but try to leave them in charge as much as possible.

  1. Offer more training
    1. Concentrate on making the team captains as knowledgeable as possible. The amount of formal instruction about seismology that students will get will vary widely. Physics classes probably won't have blocks of time dedicated to earthquakes while earth science classes may have a unit on these events. Encourage interaction between between physics and earth science classes so that students can learn from each other.
    2. Require or at least encourage students to report to their respective classes about earthquakes they have identified. The reports can be minimal or in more depth depending upon the individual student. This motivates the student to learn more about the seismic phenomena they are recording.
  1. Publicize your seismic station
    1. Give your station a name and post it prominently in the display area.
    2. Print seismograms of all identified earthquakes. Label each seismogram
    3. with data about the event and with the name of the student who identified it.

    4. Post labeled seismograms of identified earthquakes in prominent locations such as the around the seismic stat ion display, on classroom bulletin boards, etc.
    5. Report the major events and any local activity that occurs on the school's daily announcements. Invite the students and faculty to stop by and take a look at the station and the seismograms.
    6. Make your school aware of other events such as hurricanes that will show up on your station's display.
    7. Mount a large laminated world map in a conspicuous location such as a hallway. Identify the locations of recorded events on the map. Post labeled seismograms for each event if possible.
    8. Take pictures of students involved in operating the station and post photos where appropriate.
    9. Contact area newspapers and invite them to do an article about PEPP and your station. Make yourself and your students available for pictures and interviews. Be prepared for them to contact you for information about major events and especially about any earthquakes in your area.
    10. Make a presentation about PEPP at a school open house, or at least make yourself available to visitors to discuss your station's activities.
    11. Make presentations about PEPP and your seismic station to local elementary and middle schools if possible. Use members of your team to make the presentations where possible.
  1. Monitor your team's activities
    1. Faculty partners should meet regularly to discuss team activities and suggest
    2. ways to promote interaction between physics and earth science classes.

    3. Meet regularly with team captains to discuss each teams activities, identify
    4. problems, resolve conflicts, etc. Ask for suggestions to improve PEPP operations.

    5. Meet with the entire team as often as possible. Try to keep all team members

actively involved.

  1. Involve your administration
    1. Keep your principal informed about all team activ ities. Make sure you have
    2. approval for all activities involving students and the press, etc.

    3. Notify central administration about PEPP activities.
    4. If possible, make a presentation to the school board.


A Postscript

This activity was tried out at Northview High School with Jeff Sayers' Physics classes and Carole Mayrose's Earth Science classes during the 1999-2000 school year. It will be continued during 2000-20001. The PEPP instrument at Northview is located in an external vault. Data is collected and stored on two computers. One is located in Jeff Sayers' physics prep room. The second is located in a display case in the hallway outside the physics classroom on the 2nd floor and is easily accessible by students (with a key). SCREAM is running on both systems. Earth Science classes are taught in a classroom on the 1st floor in the Social Studies hallway. Large laminated world maps are posted in the hallway near Carol Mayrose's classroom.

During the past school year 21 students were involved in operating the Northview High School Seismic Station. Three students from AP Physics were selected as team leaders and students were divided evenly into three teams. These teams were responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Northview station throughout the year. In general, the activity went very well. Student interest was very high initially and was sustained throughout the school year until the spring. Senior team members became "less focused" as graduation day came closer and team activity fell off. However the overall results were very good. Students were able to identify around 50 earthquakes during the course of the school year, including several small events of local interest. Students showed a lot of interest in learning about seismic activity in physics classes and in earth science classes but we did not get as much interaction as we had hoped for.

Locating the PEPP monitor showing li ve data in a hallway display case created a lot of interest throughout the school. Students and teachers were continually aware of what was on the display and contacted us frequently when they saw major changes in the display. Three major earthquakes were observed "live", creating a lot of excitement. The map display showing the locations of identified events was very successful in atracting attention also. Several students expressed interest in joining the PEPP team next year. We will continue the activity and hope to improve it each year.

Publicity throughout the year included three different articles on the Northview PEPP Station in local and area newspapers, a telephone interview with the Indianapolis Star and a short spot on a Terre Haute,IN TV station.

Northview now has Internet access for it's classroom computers but student access is limited and there is no ftp capability yet. All file DRM's and file uploads are handled by Jeff Sayers at home. We hope to improve that situation next year.



Jeff Sayers, Physics

Carole Mayrose, Earth Science

Northview High School

Brazil, IN


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