Students in the Science Academy have had a very exciting time recently with the testing of a new, small type of seismometer called a Raspberry Shake. This device is essentially a Raspberry Pi computer attached to a sensitive seismometer that in theory will detect earthquakes that occur in this part of the world.

After it was installed and tested last term, it wasn’t long before it detected its first earthquake, which was a magnitude 2.0 that occurred near Berridale. It is anticipated that it will pick up many others like this event, because the Snowy Mountains area is a hotspot for seismic activity in Australia.

Dr Darryl Nelson, Head of Faculty, Science and Technology was excited to introduce this Raspberry Shake to the SMGS Science Academy, he said,  “This is a fantastic opportunity for Science Academy students to be involved in real science supported by practising scientists. They will learn a great deal about seismology and are already very excited about the detection of our first local earthquake.”

Science Academy students celebrate the installation of the Raspberry Shake with Raspberry Shakes!

The Science Academy students were very keen to share their thoughts on having access to this type of technology and its indicative real world application. Year 7 student, Sam Roche, explained that one of the best parts of setting the seismometer up was learning about how the small Raspberry Pi computer captures the data. He also said, “One of the more challenging aspects of the project was using the software and coding it to our computers.”

Sam’s classmate, Harry Deacon, pointed out that there was a lot more activity going on in the area than he initially thought and that the proper description to be used when talking about activity in the area is that we are in a “tremor area”, not an “earthquake area”.

Joshua Hely, a Science Academy student, also noted that SMGS actually has two seismometers on its campus, but the fact that they were able to set up this particular seismometer themselves was a really cool learning opportunity. Joshua went on to explain that there are other seismometers connected to the one at SMGS so, effectively, you can learn about the activity going on in other parts of the world.

We thank Dr Michelle Salmon from the Australian National University for allowing us to test this new device and for helping with its installation.

In the coming months, SMGS will add a seismic data feed to its website.