Sixth Grade earthquake design challenge

This update is from Lindsay Cray, our 5th and 6th grade science teacher. The students are currently in the middle of a unit of study on natural disasters!

Natural Disasters: Earthquake Safety Design

Nature creates, nature destroys. Communities around the world are faced with natural hazards-extreme environmental events. Of these events, earthquakes tend to be not only one of the most common, but also one of the most destructive. For some communities, these natural hazards turn into disasters, resulting in tremendous losses and injuries for families, communities and entire countries.

Our students were asked the essential questions; How does tectonic plate movement affect ground stability? What can people do to protect against mass destruction caused by earthquakes? Are there earthquake-proof building designs?

In order to find these answers, students took on the challenge of earthquake-proof design and discovered that this task was not so easy. Using a limited number of supplies,their challenge was to construct earthquake-proof buildings (using mainly drinking straws and paper clips) that must withstand the shaking of an “earthquake table”. One by one, 250 gram sandbags were loaded onto the structures. The towers must remain standing for one minute from the start of the simulated earthquake. Students then had two minutes to repair any damage before another sandbag was loaded and the next earthquake test began. Students quickly learned the basic principles of earthquake engineering and architecture, as well as the team skills that are a basic part of all science and engineering fields, especially needed when running repeat trials for designing and testing a structure.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>