A student demonstrates QCN Live

QCN is not only a research tool.

QCN provides tools for earthquake science education. A central mission of the Quake-Catcher Network is to provide scientific educational software and hardware so that K-12 teachers, students, and the general public can better understand and participate in the science of earthquakes and earthquake hazards. With greater understanding, teachers, students, and interested individuals will be able to share their new knowledge, resulting in continued participation in each project, and better preparation for earthquakes in their homes, businesses, and communities.

The primary education outreach goals are:

  1. To present earthquake science and earthquake hazards in a modern and exciting way

  2. To provide teachers and educators with seismic sensors, interactive software, and written materials to assist in Earth science education

QCN Live monitoring a sensor

Educational Material


We have developed a version of the software specifically to use in the classroom called QCNLive. Teachers and students use the QCNLive software with either a laptop (with an internal accelerometer) or a desktop computer with a USB sensor. QCNLive does not communicate with the QCN server so that students can simulate as many earthquakes as necessary to understand the motions that earthquakes create.

Lesson Plans

QCN designed lessons for teachers to use in the classroom to supplement earthquake curriculum. Through interactive experiments, students will learn about earthquakes and the hazards earthquakes pose. For example, students can learn how the vibrations of an earthquake decrease with distance by jumping up and down at increasing distances from the sensor and plotting the decreased amplitude of the seismic signal measured on their computer. The QCN provides a natural way to engage students and the public in earthquake detection and research. Click here for lesson plans and activities.

USB Sensor Pool


While many laptop computers have internal accelerometers, an external sensor is a much safer teaching tool. Students can move the sensor any which way without the potential of damaging the laptop (or the fear of the teacher limiting their investigation with a laptop). The USB sensors are easily plugged into the USB port on desktop computers and interact with the QCNLive software as well as QCN software that reports to the QCN server.

K-12 Sensor Request

If you are a science teacher at a K-12 school, you can request a USB sensor and accompanying QCN software with a $5 donation. K-12 teachers at underserved schools can apply for free USB sensors. If you are interested in donating a sensor to a educational or public institution or other worthwhile entity, please read more below.

Sensor Donations

If you are willing to donate to QCN, your gift will go toward purchasing USB sensors for public or educational organization (K-12 schools, libraries, fire stations, police stations, public utility companies, universities, museums, and more). The sensors also provide a stable backbone so that QCN can detect earthquakes faster and more reliably. If you donate more than $49, you can request that a sensor go to the location of your choice (contingent on a the recipient participating in QCN). To donate a sensor now please read more here.

Apply for a USB Sensor

If you are a science teacher at a K-12 school, please apply for a free USB sensor and accompanying QCN software. QCN has been able to purchase sensors to donate to schools in need. If you are interested in receiving a sensor, please contact Jennifer Saltzman to be added to the list. We will contact you when the sensors are available.