How Do You Make a Seismograph?

You can make a seismograph to measure vibrations such as earthquakes with such objects as a cup, a string, a box and a marker. This in-home science project only takes 10 to 20 minutes to set up.

  1. Set up your box

    Pick a sturdy box. It can be made of cardboard, but it must be able to support a cup filled with pennies or some other kind of solid weight. Place the box on a table or desk so that the roof of the box is at least a foot from the surface of the table. Make sure there is a place where you could tie a string around or through the top of the box. If not, cut two holes.

  2. Prepare your cup

    Take a paper or plastic cup. Cut a hole in each side at the top. Put a string through these holes to later secure to your box. Cut a small hole in the bottom. Put a marker through the hole in the bottom of the cup. Use tape or clay to secure it. Fill the cup about halfway with pennies or some other solid weight that will not slip through the hole created by the pen.

  3. Hang your cup in the box

    Use the string to hang your cup from the roof of the box. Adjust the length so the tip of the marker would just barely touch the surface. Put a piece of paper below the tip of the marker. If you shake the table, the tip of the pen should show the magnitude of the vibrations by marking lines perpendicular to the force.