12 Mission Instructions

1. Problem

Earthquakes have puzzled humans throughout history. Scientists have worked hard to try to understand earthquakes so we can plan our cities in safer places, build stronger buildings, and prepare better when one is coming.

In order to study earthquakes, scientists use devices called seismographs to detect the motion of the Earth. A sensitive seismograph can record earthquakes so tiny that humans don’t even feel the motion. By recording many of these tiny tremors over time, scientists can try to understand when and why earthquakes occur and begin to make predictions about future earthquakes.

The first known seismographs come from China and date all the way to the first century. They didn’t use any electronics but were surprisingly efficient.

In this mission, you are a scientist developing a robotic seismograph that can travel to remote locations and measure tiny tremors. First, you will invent a way to simulate earthquakes so you can test your robot safely. Then you will design, test, and refine your robot until it is gathering the most useful data for you.