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Joining the Rū Network

By | April 5, 2017

New Zealand is located on the boundary between two of the Earth’s great tectonic plates – the Australian and the Pacific. This is the reason for the many frequent ground movements felt across the country. We have seen and felt the effects of earthquakes recently and being able to study these movements provides a lot of insight into understanding the phenomenon. So what better place to study earthquakes than right here in our backyard?


Since 2014, Auckland University has been providing TC-1, a low cost, simple to build and robust seismometer to New Zealand schools that can accurately measure earthquakes. These seismometers gather data that is shared in real-time via an online portal called the Rū Network – Rū means earthquake in Māori. These seismometers are provided free of charge through funding received for the Seismometers in Schools Programme.

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At the end of 2016, Woodford House received one of the last TC-1 seismometer kits under the funding programme following an inquiry made into joining the network.

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The TC-1 seismometer set-up and connected to the Rū Network

In February, James Clarke, a PhD student from Auckland University, visited the school to help set up our seismometer and connect it to the Rū Network. He also did a workshop with Year 12 physics students on the physics behind the TC-1 design and how data from the TC-1 can be used to identify the location of an earthquake. He also spoke briefly to the School during assembly to introduce the project.

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The TC-1 has the potential to provide many cross-curricular links. The design and function leads to application of physics concepts and the earthquake data measurements allow for the study of geography and geology. The seismographs and method of locating the earthquake show applications of mathematics and the electronic circuitry and computer programmes used relate to digital technologies. Also, the context is as authentic as it could be as the TC-1 provides real-life data.

Student feedback illustrates the importance of real-life learning experiences:

“It was great and learnt lots. It’s always awesome to know what you can learn at a PhD level about earthquakes.”

Eliza Jani, Year 12

“It was interesting to see how earthquakes can be read and how this information can be developed from the data received and used in the real world.”

Anna Meban, Year 12

I would like to thank Kasper van Wijk, Ted Channel and James Clarke from Auckland University for the support provided. We will continue to work with them to develop other learning outcomes through the TC-1 project.

Iresha Dona, Teacher in Charge of Physics