Skip navigation

High schoolers shake things up at Wellington’s CRISiSLab

High school students are shaking up their learning by creating their own earthquake alerts as part of this year’s CRISiSLab Challenge.

Funded by the Earthquake Commission (EQC) and hosted by CRISiSLab(external link) at Massey University(external link), the challenge sees students work with a Raspberry Shake(external link) seismometer and live data generated to design a simple system that sends an alert when it detects ground motion activity.Students from Te Kura Māori o Porirua taking part in last year's CRISiSLab ChallengeDr Marion Tan, leader of the CRISiSLab Challenge, says the competition, which starts on 16 May, aims to encourage more young people to step into a career in the STEM field.

“We need more young people in science and disaster management. They’re the next generation of scientists and the link between innovation and our future preparedness,” Dr Tan says.

Teams from schools in the Wellington region will be vying for top spot, with the winners to be awarded a summer internship with Massey’s CRISiSLab team.

Through the challenge, the students will not only test their knowledge in science and technology but also learn how to better communicate science in creative ways. They will have the opportunity to engage with professionals from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) backgrounds. CRISiSLab Team will be providing technical support along the way.

For Dr Tan, a highlight of last year’s inaugural challenge(external link) was watching the skills of students develop throughout the 10 weeks, with others showcasing real potential.

She mentions how the Challenge also helped one student pursue future study in technology which shows the impact of it.

Dr Tan says it is amazing to see what gets achieved during the challenge and to think what could be brought forward in the future of technology and earth sciences.

“Last year, students blew us away with their performance and ability to overcame difficulties through teamwork. We saw some innovative, effective and detailed earthquake alert systems – despite some students learning how to code for the first time during the challenge,” she explains.

Ben Hong and Zade Viggers from Wellington College were last year’s winners, and both say they learned lots from the challenge.

“I got experience with sockets, web APIs, and so much more. I would totally recommend joining if you’re looking for a good challenge and a chance to learn more about web development,” Ben says. 

“The challenge motivated me to try out lots of new technologies that I probably wouldn’t have used otherwise. It was an awesome experience and something I’ll never forget,” Zade says.

So far, includes Wellington College, Wellington High School, Wellington East Girls’ College, Taita College, Paraparaumu College, St Patrick’s College, St Mary’s College Wellington, and Te Kura Māori o Porirua. CRISiSLab Team are encouraging more students from girls’ colleges and Kura Kaupapa Māori to participate.

EQC’s Chief Resilience and Research Officer, Dr Jo Horrocks says that giving our young people exposure, experience, and the opportunity to learn about the technology behind our sciences opens the door to a world they may not have thought about yet.

“We’re excited to support such an important initiative that gives our young students access to some of New Zealand’s most renowned seismic experts. I’m looking forward to seeing what the students come up with this year,” says Dr Horrocks.

Find out more about this year’s challenge at link).