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Upper School Corner - Caltech Lab Field Trip

Thursday, 11 February, 2016 - 11:12 am

Caltech Lab Field Trip

This week the middle school students went to the Seismological Laboratory on February 9th.  This was to kickoff the Science and Math PBL. Students had the opportunity to see a working lab and tour the CalTech campus.

Inside the Caltech Lab, students had the opportunity to hear from an expert in the field about how they measure and analyze earthquake data. Students monitored live-time seismic activity and were able to make their own “earthquake” and record their data using a digital seismometer. Even more, students were able to see the media room where Caltech and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) comment and respond to seismic activity during press conferences. Students witnessed how seismic waves move across California and observed possible damage that could occur from future earthquakes. Finally, students were able to see the project that Caltech, the USGS, ad the California Integrated Seismic Network have been working on: the Earthquake Early Warning. This program seeks to alert individuals of earthquakes that are occurring so that they may move into the safest possible position. With this information, students learned how to respond to an Earthquake Early Warning Report and the appropriate safety measures to take.

In addition to the lab, the students had the opportunity to tour the campus. On the tour the students saw amazing buildings with great architecture. One of the tallest buildings on campus is the Millikan Library, and every Halloween, Dabney House stages a pumpkin drop from the top of Millikan Library, the highest point on campus. According to a tradition at CalTech, a claim was once made that the shattering of a pumpkin frozen in liquid nitrogen and dropped from a sufficient height would produce a triboluminescent spark. Even though the students couldn’t take part in that tradition, the students did take part in a different tradition. The  tradition the students took part in was for good luck. At CalTech the students rub the nose on the bust of Robert A. Millikan, who was the head of school for 24 years, before taking a test for good luck. Some of our middle school students took part in that tradition for some of their upcoming tests, so that they would also have good luck on their upcoming tests. On the campus tour we also came across a pond with turtles. That is where the picture of the girls and boys was taken. In addition to turtles and great architecture, the students saw all the olive trees, gemstones, a saber tooth skeleton, and a canon.

Mrs. McKenna Harkins and Mrs. Shani Newman

Upper School Math and Science Teachers

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