Engineering for Earthquakes

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Introduction 

Get ready to shake things up! In this design challenge, you’ll engineer a structure and see if it can survive an earthquake you create! Although we are still figuring out how to reliably predict earthquakes in the real world, we can prepare for these disasters by designing structures that are less likely to be damaged or collapse. As earthquake engineers, you’ll use materials from around your home to build an earthquake-safe structure. Have fun perfecting your creation as you build a seismically sound structure to withstand your own “earthquake”!  

Design Challenge

Part 1: Build a DIY Shake Table that creates reliable “earthquakes” to test
your structure.
 

Part 2: Design and create a structure at least 1 foot high that can survive
an earthquake.

Subject

Engineering Design Challenge

Ages

8+

Time

DIY Shake Table: 5-30 min

Earthquake-Safe Structure: 45+ min

Key Concepts

Structural engineering, earthquake engineering, design, iteration

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Want a challenge?

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JUMP IN!

Walk around your neighborhood and study the shapes of buildings, homes, light poles and more. What shapes are used to create stability? How do tall things not fall over?

Want a challenge?

REWARDING & FLEXIBLE

Design and create a foot-tall structure to survive an earthquake that you’ll simulate on your DIY shake table! 

Want a challenge?

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DESIGN CHALLENGES AHEAD!

Add height: How high can you go before your structure collapses?

If you think this looks fun, wait ‘til you try these!