2011 finalists & winners > Up to 12 years > Affordable Earthquake Detector
Affordable Earthquake Detector
Kirkwood Intermediate School
Living in Christchurch, a determined Alvin Li set to creating an electronic way of getting an early warning of incoming earthquakes and calculating their magnitude. An accelerometer is used to detect the initial wave of an earthquake - which is fast moving but barely noticeable. The Earthquake detector then sounds the alarm, giving a person precious seconds to get to cover.
"The best part of developing my project was learning about earthquakes and electronics. I also picked up a lot of practical skills that will be useful in the future. I’m happy that I’ve created a product that has a lot of commercial potential and could even save lives.
The hardest part was soldering the accelerometer – it was a real challenge, and I was lucky to have Caillyn Benbow, a technician, to help me make an adaptor for the accelerometer.
In my spare time I play piano, saxophone and guitar. I play football for a club and for my school, and I also love reading books on science and learning about electronics with my Dad.
My biggest inspiration is my Dad. He’s an electronics engineer, and it’s very interesting to see him make and program electronic devices – he’s very talented! I was also inspired by the seismologists who came to Christchurch during the recent earthquakes – they were very knowledgeable about the disaster.
I’ve been a Bright Sparks club member for the past year, and it’s a great place for helpful advice and tips on technology. I also like seeing what other people my age are up to with electronics.
If I could invent anything, I would develop my own earthquake detector further as it has some limitations. I would also like to invent robots, and a house alarm that would catch burglars red handed!"