New exhibit looks at why Rutland quakes

Paul Denton holds the audience at the earthquake exhibit at Rutland County Museum
Photo: Alan Walters EMN-160213-131925001
Paul Denton holds the audience at the earthquake exhibit at Rutland County Museum Photo: Alan Walters EMN-160213-131925001
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Rutland has had more than its fair share of earthquakes and now a new exhibit has opened to look at what causes the Earth to shake.

Children from Oakham CE Primary School were the first to test the new exhibit at Rutland County Museum that takes a fun look at the science behind earthquakes.

The interactive earthquake display is a gift from the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society and links with the Seismology in Schools Project managed by the British Geological Survey and initially started at the University of Leicester.

As well as using simple seismometers to detect signals from large earthquakes happening anywhere in the world, the new exhibit features a touch screen interactive display and a ‘jump mat’ that allows children to create their own earthquake signals.

Speaking at the opening of the exhibit on Thursday last week, Robert Clayton, head of culture services at Rutland County Council, said: “Much like the children here today, we’re incredibly excited about the new exhibit and would like to thank the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society for their generosity in supplying the technology.

“Often when children go to museums they’re told they can’t touch anything and can only look at the displays. This new exhibit is completely interactive – getting youngsters to create their own ‘mini earthquakes’ and then examine the readings.

“Rutland has had more than its fair share of tremors in recent year and this excites and fascinates a lot of children.

“We hope any students less interested in physics will also be drawn to the subject by seeing a simple seismograph detect and record signals from earthquakes hundreds or thousands of miles away.”

The last recorded quake in Rutland was in September. It measured 2.8 on the Richter scale and started 2km under Cottesmore. It was the ninth in two years but a seismologist from the British Geological Survey said 200 were recorded every year across the country.

Joan Beeson, president of the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society, officially opened the exhibit, before the 90 Year 5 and 6 pupils put the technology through its paces.

A larger ‘sister’ display was unveiled at New Walk Museum in Leicester by Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan (Con), Secretary of State for Education, the following day. The data from both seismographs will be shared live online meaning that anyone can watch the earth move anywhere in the world before the news of an earthquake breaks in the media.

The displays have been paid for by the HS Bennett Fund, which was created in the 1930s to assist earthquake investigations and promote education in science.