When the Earth Shakes

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Exhibit Descriptions

Download the Exhibit Descriptions in Portable Document Format (PDF)

Exhibition Overview

Exhibition consists of a set of connected wall panels of different building materials in a mock "earthquake zone," setting the stage for all of the interactive components. The Shake Table is freestanding; the rest of the exhibits are attached to the wall panels.

Quake Karaoke

Try to replicate the motion of any of three different historic earthquakes by bouncing up and down on a platform; see your own seismogram on the monitor in real time as you attempt to match the original seismogram. You'll even get a score! How well did you do?

Puzzled Earth

How quickly can you assemble a map of the Earth according to its plate tectonic boundaries? Press the button to begin, then put the puzzle pieces in place on the big panel. Hurry, you have two minutes before the pieces fall!

Plates in Motion

Spin the dial and watch stunning tectonic motion as the plates move around, break up and reassemble. You can start at 600 million years ago, spin to the present, and then go all the way to 200 million years into the future. Go backward and forward in time. Can you find our current tectonic plate arrangement? You won't even recognize the continents as they'll be 200 million years into the future.

Seismic Monitor

See a real-time display, updated every fifteen minutes, that shows the hundreds of earthquakes of the past two weeks. Look for larger-magnitude quakes with their bigger circles. Notice how the quakes cluster around the tectonic plate boundaries.

Earthquake Shake Table

Be an engineer! Design and build model structures of blocks and reinforcing rods, then turn the dial to test the results against earthquake forces on the shake table. Did your structure stand up? Can you make it safer?

Earthquake Theater

Visitors can choose from five fast-paced award-winning videos of a diverse group of real engineers working to make our world safer during earthquakes. Watch footage of earthquakes and find out what can happen when the earth shakes; learn what causes earthquakes and see how engineers are using amazing tools and technology to test and improve building techniques and materials, even shaking full-size bridges or bending 16-meter (50') pipe sections. (Each video is about 1 1/2 minutes long.)

Engineering Research Centers

At this touch screen station, learn about the National Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) network, a group of fourteen university research facilities where engineers test buildings and structures with giant shake tables, centrifuges, tsunami tanks, and other large-scale equipment. See some of the different experiments that take place at each of the sites!