DRH-Asia: Disaster Reduction Hyperbase
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1. Title

Effective disaster reduction education by making simple equipments and experimental apparatus from accessible materials

ID: DRH 2 Experiment of PET-bottle seismometer
Hazard: Earthquake , Volcanic eruption , Other

Process Technology (PT)

Proposer: Hiroaki Negishi
Country: JAPAN;
Date posted: 07 January 2008
Date published: 09 June 2009
Copyright © 2009 Hiroaki Negishi (proposer). All rights reserved.

Experiment of PET-bottle seismometer


Hiroaki Negishi (Senior Researcher)
Yasuaki Nohguchi (Principal Senior Researcher)
Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention (NIED)
3-1, Tenno-dai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0006, JAPAN
E-mail: negishi@bosai.go.jp (Negishi)
E-mail: nhg@bosai.go.jp (Nohguchi)

2. Major significance / Summary

Some kinds of experimental equipments (e.g., seismograph, liquefaction experiment bottle) can be made from accessible materials such as PET bottle, fine sand, copper wire, plastic tube, etc. It is possible to learn more effectively about mechanism of hazard and action to natural disaster by such handy-crafting and experiments than by only reading books and lecture.

3. Keywords

experiment-based education, PET bottle, school education

II. Categories

4. Focus of this information

Process Technology (PT)

5. Users

5-1. Anticipated users: Community leaders (voluntary base) , NGO/NPO project managers and staff , Teachers and educators

5-2. Other users: Local residents

6. Hazards focused

Earthquake , Volcanic eruption , Other


7. Elements at risk

Human lives , Urban areas , Coastal areas

III. Contact Information

8. Proposer(s) information (Writer of this template)

Hiroaki Negishi (Senior Researcher)
Yasuaki Nohguchi (Principal Senior Researcher)
Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention (NIED)
3-1, Tenno-dai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0006, JAPAN
E-mail: negishi@bosai.go.jp (Negishi)
E-mail: nhg@bosai.go.jp (Nohguchi)

9. Country(ies)/region(s) where the technology/knowledge/practice originated


10. Names and institutions of technology/knowledge developers

Hiroaki Negishi and Yasuaki Nohguchi, National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention

11. Title of relevant projects if any

12. References and publications

Nohguchi, Y. (2001) Liquefaction simulator “Licky” for science education, Report of the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention, 61, 49-53 (in Japanese with English abstract)

13. Note on ownership if any

“Liquefaction bottle (Licky)” and “Bottled seismograph” are protected by the patent that Nohguchi and Negishi acquired respectively. However, there is no limitation in non-commercial use.

IV. Background

14. Disaster events and/or societal circumstances, which became the driving force either for developing the technology/knowledge or enhancing its practice

There have been occurred a lot of disasters by various hazards, such as earthquake, volcanic eruption, liquefaction, etc. It is subjacent to deal with disasters by them for people to know the mechanism and the factor of hazards. However reading books and/or classroom lecture bring only “knowledge” of hazards and disasters. In this document we introduce processes of educational experiments to know mechanism of hazard by using accessible materials and learning “knowledge related to actual action” from experiences.

 In National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention (NIED), we have conducted various kinds of education activities on natural hazard, such as open-house to citizen, "Science Camp" for high school, junior high school, and elementary school students.  Through those long-term educational activities we developed these teaching materials as a more effective natural disaster education method.

Now the outlines how to make these materials and the experimental methodology are introduced with the magazine for the teacher, and some companies are selling the materials as the kit for a school teaching materials.

V. Description

15. Feature and attribute

- Students make educational equipments (PET bottle seismograph,liquefaction bottle) with accessible materials underthe lecture of lecturer and/or manual document.

- It is good for students to explain the meanings of structure and the relationto actual natural phenomena while crafting it.

- Students observe the waveform of ground motion, find the moment action when liquefaction occur by experimental equipments made by their own.

- The lecturer explains that these behaviors are the similar as natural phenomena, let them image they are inside the PET bottle, and let them realize their state objectively when they are in the disaster.

- As an application case, the lecturer teaches only a basic mechanism to students, and then they think about the structure of equipment based on the knowledge and make equipments by them. This is effective to high school and university students.

16. Necessary process to implement

- Refer to the attached documents for details of how to make PET bottle seismograph and Licky.

- Lecturer must understand the contents of equipments (both handicrafts type and what specialists are actually using) and analogies between them and actual natural phenomenon accurately.

- Students make it and experiment by themselves.

- The lecturer teaches not only experiments but also that the phenomena seen in PET bottle are as similar as in actual nature.

- The lecturer let the students imagine the situation they are in the hazard, and realize that the causes of the hazard seen in the model (e.g., moment phenomenon of liquefaction) is similar as in actual nature.

17. Strength and limitations


- It is easy to understand the mechanisms for students because of making experimental equipments by them.

- The teaching material with movement catches students' interests.

- Handy introduction since a special material is not needed.


- There is an individual variation at the crafting pace, so smooth class progress might be difficult for the large number of people, such as in school class.

- Because the experiments are on the base and mechanism of hazards, it doesn’t relate directly to actual education of disaster mitigation.

18. Lessons learned through implementation if any

VI. Resources required

19. Facilities and equipments required

PET bottle seismograph:
 PET bottle (500 ml), thin wire (about 10m), vinyl chloride tube (one that enters mouth of PET bottle), earphone cable, vinyl tape, personal computer (or pen-recorder), software that displays waveforms of input signal to mike terminal.See the attached PDF file (PET-seismo_en.pdf) for details.

Liquefaction bottle (Licky):
 PET bottle, fine sand (coast sand is better), map-pin (4 or 5 for one bottle), water.


 Liquefaction simulation bottle ("Licky").  Put fine sand (approx. 100 ml for 500 ml size bottle) and ball-shaped map-pins (4 to 5) into 500ml size PET-bottle and fill with water.


(left) Shake the bottle well and put it on flat place.
(middle) Wait quietly until sand precipitates. The map-pins are in sand.
(right) Snap the bottle lightly and the map-pins float to sand's surface because of liquefaction.


Change in height of sand before (left) and after (right) liquefaction. Water in sand is pushed out by liquefaction, and the surface of sand falls down.

20. Costs, organization, manpower, etc.

The cost of materials: about 200 to 500 yen (1.5 to 4.5 US$) for each. The student of the upper-grade of elementary school can craft them at short time (30-40 minutes in the seismograph, 5-10 minutes in Licky).

VII. Message from the proposer if any

21. Message

VIII. Self evaluation in relation to applicability

22. How do you evaluate the technology/knowledge that you have proposed?

It is a technology/knowledge that has high application potential verified by implementation in various field sites.

23. Notes on the applicability if any

IX. Application examples


    E1-1. Project name if available

    Understanding of seismic intensity and magnitude with PET bottle seismograph

    E1-2. Place

    Class intended for junior high school students and high school students in NIED

    E1-3. Year


    E1-4. Investor

    Planning section, National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention

    E1-5. People involved

    Hiroaki NEGISHI, Senior Researcher, National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention
    E-mail: negishi@bosai.go.jp

    E1-6. Monetary costs incurred

    Total: 41600 yen (about 360 US$): 300 yen x 12 people = 3600 yen (about 32US$) for PET bottle seismograph materials, 14000 yen (about 120 US$) for manufacturing cost of oil-drum that packs concrete, 24000 yen (about 210 US$) for operation fee of truck crane.

    E1-7. Total workload required

    1. Craftwork guidance and explanation concerning seismograph by a lecturer (40-50 minutes).

    2. All members move to the field in outdoor, and set the PET bottle seismographs that students nearby- and far-from the crane. The lecturer connects wires from the seismometers to personal computer or pen recorder. (5-10 minutes)

    3. A special operator drops the drum from various heights, and students read the difference of the output amplitude from the screen of the personal computer or the pen recorder. (10-20 minutes)

    4. The lecturer explains the relation between seismic intensity and magnitude by the analogy of output amplitude from their seismographs and the height in which the oil-drum dropped. (5 minutes)


     Photo: "Drum-drop Earthquake" experiments.  The drum filled with mortar is dropped from various height, and the shake is recorded with PET-bottle seismograph.  In this case, wehave set not only PET-bottle seismographs but also Liquefaction bottles.

    E1-8. Evidence of positive result

    By these experiments, the students understood about the relation among "magnitude (height of mortar drum)", "epicentral distance (distance between drop point and seismographs)" and "seismic intensity (amplitude of seismograms)". They also found that liquefaction is not porotional to epicentral distance but all of the bottles within a certain epicentral distance has completely cause lieuqfaction. They understand that ground motion does not conduct all liquefaction process but shaking is "trigger" of the beggining of liquefaction phenomenon.

    Almost all of the students realized the difference between seismic intensity and magnitude, in spite of the student more than half confused them before the lecture. Some students designed application experiments voluntarily after the lecture.


    E2-1. Project name if available

    Experience course of natural disaster understanding intended for civilian

    E2-2. Place

    The public event places that staged by governmental organizations, municipality, and institutions (NIED)

    E2-3. Year

    Since 2000

    E2-4. Investor

    Planning section, National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention

    E2-5. People involved

    Y. Nohguchi, Principal Senior Researcher (nhg@bosai.go.jp),
    H. Negishi, Senior Researcher (negishi@bosai.go.jp)
    # National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention

    E2-6. Monetary costs incurred

    Each cost of materials is 200 to 500 yen (1.5 to 4.5 US$) for PET bottle seismograph, Liquefaction bottle (named “Licky”).

    E2-7. Total workload required

    The time frame depends on participant's ability, but the person to whom it takes 15 minutes (50 minutes for PET bottle seismometer) to make them is rare. Ten or less of participants for one lecturer is preferable.

    E2-8. Evidence of positive result

    Participants realized the actual phenomena of liquefaction (liquefaction occurs not slightly but suddenly) and the observation of earthquake (the earthquake observation is to record ground motion, and complex calculations are necessary to determine hypocenter and seismic intensity).

X. Other related parallel initiatives if any


XI. Remarks for version upgrade


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> Other (4)

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