✅Seismometers at two Council Rock middle schools detected the earthquake

✅Earth science teacher Dave Curry confirmed it was a "regional" event

✅Students saw some desks move in their own classroom


NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP — Friday's earthquakes in New Jersey turned into a real-time science lesson for students at the Newtown Middle School.

The first earthquake, centered in Whitehouse Station in Hunterdon County, measured a magnitude 4.8. at 10:23 a.m. One of the over two dozen aftershocks measured a magnitude 3.8 with an epicenter of Gladstone around 6 p.m. Friday.

Students in Dave Curry's Period 3 class were taking a quiz when the first earthquake happened Friday morning.

"It was really quiet in the room because we're working. And it really sounded like, to me, like the students in the classroom upstairs were jumping around and moving tables and some loud activity which sometimes happens in a science classroom," Curry told PA Living News. "And it lasted for maybe 20 seconds, it seems. And when it happened, we all kind of like looked around at each other like, well, that's a lot of noise."

Curry said he didn't feel the shaking but he heard a rumble. Some students said they saw desks move back and forth a little. The lights hanging above the room did not move.

"It was just a neat time to be teaching science, especially earth science, when an earthquake was actually felt by my students in my class and me," Curry said.

ALSO READ: Powerful 4.0 aftershock felt Friday afternoon

USGS map showing aftershocks as of 10:30 a.m. EDT 4/6/24
USGS map showing aftershocks as of 10:30 a.m. EDT 4/6/24 (USGS/Canva)

'Oh my God, did you feel that?'

Curry decided to take a look at the display of the seismometers he received in 2008 from the National Science Teachers Association. He noticed that whatever happened was recorded by the units at both the Newtown Middle School and the Holland Middle School about five miles away.

"I said 'It could have been an earthquake, or it could have been a meteor impact. But it was something that shook the region.' And we were all just kind of watching the seismometer in the back corner recording these really thick lines up and down. And after a few minutes, you could see that the seismometer was really picking up a lot of shaking, even though we couldn't feel it anymore."

Curry said he sent a school-wide email letting everyone know that they did feel something. He confirmed it was an earthquake on the US Geological Survey website.

Being unflappable teens Curry said his students' reaction was subdued. Curry's classroom became a popular spot for teachers.

"For the rest of the day teachers who all know that I'm really into seismology and earth science and know I've picked up other big earthquakes around the world started popping into my room and were like, 'oh my God, did you feel that? Did you pick it up,'" Curry said.

The seismometers have picked up earthquakes in Japan, Chile and Turkey.

"Anywhere in the world where an earthquake occurring that is more than a magnitude six and a half or seven, we will pick it up on our device. These earthquakes happen about once a month," Curry said. "The larger the magnitude, the rarer the earthquake. So a magnitude seven typically happens about 10 to 12 times per year. So on average about once a month, and we do pick those up."

ALSO READ: How did so many people feel Friday's earthquake in NJ?

Solar eclipse road trip

Curry says he will be driving to Buffalo, New York, to watch the solar eclipse on Monday as the Council Rock district, like most Bucks County school districts, will be dismissing classes early.

"To see the eclipse I did drive down to Tennessee in 2017. And I did see the total eclipse and the clouds broke for just a little bit. I was able to see totality down in Tennessee and now I'm hooked," Curry said.

Curry said he got some eclipse glasses at a recent convention and was handing them out to students and staff who asked. But he got into a little trouble with his family when he ran out.

"I accidentally gave them all out and didn't leave any for my family. So I had to buy some on Amazon. It's all good. It's all good. Science is exciting," Curry said.

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