This lab or activity is a hands-on and collaborative learning lesson that incorporates the following:
Inferencing and Predicting
Materials: this handout, mini-marshmellows, toothpicks, jello
Overview: Students will work together to tackle a real-world problem: engineers are constantly working to design and build buildings that can survive the impact of serious earthquakes. I show students some videos and pictures of before/after earthquake scenarios so that they can see how buildings have difficulty during earthquakes. Students collaborate to design a building with a structure that could withstand a minor earthquake as well as a major earthquake. Once they are done with their sketch/design, they will use toothpicks and mini-marshmellows to "build" the building. They put the building on a tray of jello and trade with another group. The two groups "test" the buildings and then record what happened. At the end, students revise ideas and create better possible solutions to this real-world problem. This lesson is a HIT with my students and they LOVE the hands on quality and real-world connection. I make the trays of jello the night before and then just keep them in my cafeteria during the day. It doesn't take much to make a wobbly surface!