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Students Design Earthquake Resistant Structures in Science
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Whitehurst fourth-graders have been learning about seismic activity and earthquake-resistant building designs since December and had the opportunity to test their designs this week.

Part of an engineering study, the lesson helped students hone group problem-solving, public speaking and types of aseismic structure design skills. Groups made plans for a building that would withstand an earthquake model, constructed them and tested designs outside the lab. As a final step, students presented their projects in front of their peers running two tests – one for a small earthquake and one for a larger scale seismic event.

Students were required to use items from a prescribed list in their building construction and structures had to meet the following design criterion:

  • Model building must remain standing during the shaking of a small earthquake
  • Model must remain standing for at least 10 seconds after the shaking of a large earthquake to give someone time to escape after the shaking stops
  • Model must use at least one earthquake resistant structure or device
  • Model building should have at least two levels
  • Each level must have a floor
  • Models should be at least 15 cm tall
  • Model must have a roof

Science teacher Andi Oldham played project building code official during the lab, checking each group’s structure to make sure its design was meeting proper “codes.”

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