FAIRBANKS — Students at Barnette Magnet School got a taste of what it feels like to be in an earthquake Friday. Students from fourth through sixth grades took their seats, three at a time, in a trailer rigged up to a motor and generator and experienced the shakiness of up to a magnitude-9.2 earthquake.
Kids stepped inside the “Quake Cabin” and were strapped into seats against one wall for safety.
“I feel like you’re putting us in some sort of rocket ship,” Jamie Sullivan, 9, commented as seat buckles were tightened around him.
The Quake Cabin is owned by the state’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and there is only one in Alaska. It travels along the road system, so kids in different areas can get a feel for natural disasters. It teaches children to “drop, cover and hold on” in earthquake situations.
Although it carried some of the same excitement that comes from amusement park rides, Lorna Illingworth, executive director of Fairbanks’ Volunteers in Policing stressed the experience was not meant to be just a ride.
“We’re just trying to educate boys and girls in disaster preparedness,” she said. “Hopefully it’ll be less scary for them if they have to experience (a real earthquake).”
As three students took their seats, Illingworth said, “You’re going to get to see what it’s like to be in a 7.0 earthquake.”
The trailer began to tremble, rocking back and forth slowly, but it didn’t take long for things to speed up. Soon, the bookshelf facing the students across the trailer rocked ferociously, knocking its books to the floor. The bookshelf itself was secured to the wall, only loose enough to lean forward about a foot.
Items on other shelves in the trailer showed how things can be secured in the home — china was glued down, and a television was secured by a strap.
Just when kids thought the rocking was over, an aftershock would hit.
“The aftershock was so scary,” Hannah Koenig, 10, said.
Contact staff writer Reba Lean at 459-7523.