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The Natural History Museum: First Friday Event: April 2, 2010

by Andy Liang, SCEC Education Program Assistant, USC

On April 2, 2010, the Southern California Earthquake Center participated in the First Friday event at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. First Fridays is a monthly all-inclusive event that brings together curatorial tours, scientific discussion and music performances, creating an exciting and engaging nightlife atmosphere. The theme of the April First Friday focused on the topic of earthquakes, a relevant and conscious issue in the recent global media and public eye.

Larger image(from left to right) Thanakij Pechprasarn, Andy Liang, Warren Yamashita, Irene Gow, Jessica Donovan

The Southern California Earthquake Center was present at the event to promote earthquake preparedness and the Great California ShakeOut. SCEC representatives distributed materials such as ShakeOut flyers, fact sheets on recent earthquakes, and Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country publications. Earthquake visualizations were also projected on a plasma screen to demonstrate the movement of earthquakes in the Los Angeles region. Additionally, visitors were encouraged to register for the ShakeOut, occurring this year on October 21, at 10:21 a.m. Representatives included SCEC staff members Bob de Groot, Andy Liang, Benjamin Dansby, Christina Gotuaco, Irene Gow, and Warren Yamashita, as well as Jessica Donovan, a USC Earth Science graduate student, and Thanakij Pechprasarn, a past SCEC ACCESS-G intern.

Larger image(from left to right) Warren Yamashita, Irene Gow, Benjamin Dansby, Christina Gotuaco

The lecture portion of First Friday featured guest speaker Dr. Tanya Atwater, a member of the SCEC community and Professor Emerita from the University of California, Santa Barbara, who shared her first-hand experience with the recent magnitude 8.8 Chile earthquake, and presented the geological patterns of Southern California's mountains, valleys, and coastlines. Atwater also used computer visualizations to demonstrate various earthquake scenarios, which induced audible reactions of surprise from the audience to see the potential devastation that could occur in the Southern California region. The presence of SCEC after the lecture allowed visitors to ask questions regarding safety issues (e.g. Drop, Cover, Hold On, and the Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety), and many more brought up discussions of recent major earthquakes and how this might affect scientists' forecast of the "Big One" within Southern California.

Larger imageA First Friday attendee peruses ShakeOut material and earthquake preparedness information

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is a member of the ECA Earthquake Education and Public Information (EPIcenter) Network. This First Fridays event is an example of how free choice learning institutions use innovative approaches to raise public awareness of earthquake preparedness and risk reduction. "I thought the event was a great success," said Alyssa Morgan, the Collections Manager at the Natural History Museum. "The crowd's reaction to SCEC's simulated earthquakes was amazing. I think people realized immediately that they were unaware of the true destructive power of a large earthquake in the Los Angeles basin!"

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