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Earthquakes are some of the more dramatic expressions of the dynamics of our planet. The sudden release of stress built up slowly by tectonic or volcanic processes often has far-reaching consequences, and can be measured (in classrooms) around the world. This is one reason why designing and building seismometers has been a popular activity,1,2 and why different versions of “Seismometer in Schools” projects thrive in the United States, Australia, and Europe. We present a cheap, robust, and easy-to-build seismometer—called the TC1 —to measure seismic displacements in the vertical direction. Its components are easy to obtain and assemble, yet the resulting instrument is accurate enough to record earthquakes from around the globe. The parts list and building instructions of the TC1 seismometer are freely available online. Alternatively, a complete kit can be purchased for around US$300. Assembling the system naturally introduces students to a number of concepts in physics and engineering, while upon completion seismic recordings trigger discussions about the dynamics and internal structure of the Earth. The discussions are fostered by service learning and shared in the network of TC1s called the Z-NET.

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Copyright (2013) American Institute of Physics. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the American Institute of Physics. along with the following message: The following article appeared in Physics Teacher, 51(9), 552-554 and may be found at DOI: 10.1119/1.4830072