Earthquakes are both troubling and fascinating because of their suddenness, the terrible destruction they can wreak and because they still remain unpredictable. This is why emphasis must be placed on preparation, especially in the school system where causes and effects of these hazards are studied. But trying to explain earthquakes, scrutinizing the earth’s depths, taking on the planet internal dynamics… entail moving into the inaccessible. In this respect seismology is a source of complexity and fascination.
Scientific culture is thus at the heart of seismic risk instruction. All of this is in what the “SISMOS à l’École” curriculum is involved, by implementing an educational program that allows a natural risk culture to be engaged through a scientific and technological approach.
The original and innovative aspect of this programme stems from giving students the opportunity to install a seismometer in their school. The recorded signals, reflecting regional or global seismic activity, feed into an on-line database, a genuine seismic resource centre and a springboard for educational and scientific activities.
The network ‘EduSismo’ (numbering some sixty stations installed in metropolitan France, the overseas departments and territories and a few French high schools abroad) is the outgrowth of an experiment conducted in the Alpes-Maritimes area some twelve years back. Since then, the programme implemented has gone beyond simply acquiring seismic signals, which has been procured by research and monitoring centres. By appropriating a scientific measurement, the student becomes personally involved and masters complex concepts about geophysics and geosciences. The development of simple devices and the design of concrete experiments associated with an investigative approach make it possible to instill the students, these future citizens, a high-quality scientific culture and an education about risks.
Today, this programme is expanding. New initiatives with Italian, British and Swiss partners are being put in place to share experiences and data in Europe.