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Earthquake and tsunami science and preparedness for coastal Cascadia educators

  • Pricipal Invesitagor(s): Robert Lillie, Nancee Hunter (OSU), Robert Butler (Univ of Portland), Beth Pratt-Sitaula (CWU)
  • UNAVCO Staff: Ken Austin, Shelley Olds and Beth Pratt-Sitaula
  • Dates: August 12-15 & Oct 11-14, 2013; March 8, 2014
  • Locations: Newport, Oregon and Astoria, Oregon
  • Funding Source: NSF EarthScope

Written by Beth Pratt-Sitaula
12 April 2014


Through a grant from the EarthScope Program of the National Science Foundation, the Cascadia EarthScope Earthquake and Tsunami Education Program (CEETEP) offers four-day workshops to foster community engagement in earthquake and tsunami science and preparedness and to encourage collaboration and exchange between formal and informal educators. The project is collaborative between Oregon State University, University of Portland, and Central Washington University with UNAVCO providing technical and curricular resources support.

Forty-six educators participated in the first year of CEETEP. The professional development program brings together teachers, park/museum interpreters, and emergency management educators to learn about EarthScope science, Pacific Northwest geology and hazards, and preparedness. The project held the first two workshops in August and October 2013 for educators in coastal southern Washington and northern Oregon. A follow-up Share-a-thon was run March 8, 2014 for participants from both workshops to present on accomplishments and activities.


The same geological forces that form the spectacular beaches and headlands of the Pacific Northwest also threaten lives and infrastructure with earthquakes and tsunamis. CEETEP is working to mitigate the effects of these potential disasters through collaboration building and professional development for educators in communities along the Oregon and Washington coast. Joint professional development between different types of educators is atypical and a component of the project is researching the challenges and benefits of the model.

Results from Year 1 of the project are very promising. Participant geoscience content knowledge on workshop topics improved from an average of 50% to 87%. Teaching confidence also improved dramatically from 2.8 to 5.4 on a 6-point scale with 6 indicating the most confidence. Participants are also much more “optimistic” (from 5.7 to 7.3 on a 9-point scale) about the value of community-level planning to mitigate future disasters. Eighty-six percent of participants agreed or strongly agreed that the model of joint professional development for educators was effective. CEETEP participants have reached more than 5400 learners through 140 presentations since August 2013 and anticipate more than doubling this by August 2014.

CEETEP has two more years of funding and will run workshops in Aberdeen, Washington and Olympic Peninsula, Washington in 2014 and move to southern Oregon and maybe even northern California in 2015.


Several CEETEP participants achieved particularly notable outcomes.

  • Sean Bedell’s class at the Eddyville Charter School conducted a tsunami geology coring investigation and hazards assessment project that received the Samsung Solve Prize for Oregon – $20,000 in Samsung equipment for the school. Watch the Eddyville Tsunami Project class video.
  • Alyssa Caudill and Key McMurry received nearly $1000 from the Earthquake County Alliance for the South Bend leadership class’s preparedness activities; took entire South Bend 7th and 8th grade classes on tsunami geology field trips; and arranged to have 16 SCEC Quake Catcher Instruments in schools, libraries, and other educational facilities in Pacific County, Washington.
  • The team from Astoria, Oregon worked collectively to have the Columbia River Maritime Museum’s December 2013 Community Day focused largely on earthquake and tsunami science and preparedness. This reached hundreds of community members and involved more than a dozen Astoria High School students as docents.


Collaboration between CEETEP and UNAVCO resulted in the development of two new animations that feature how GPS is critical to understanding and mitigating earthquake hazards on a variety of different timescales.

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Last modified: 2020-01-28  22:54:29  America/Denver