Yet another award winning lab/project from Laura Branch!!! This lab won a curriculum project grant in 2010!
This is a great project that ties together the ideas of plate tectonics, volcanics and earthquakes in a fun project that students of all levels and backgrounds can enjoy!
First off--students have to measure the classroom to fully understand the concept of scale. They create a 1:40 scale model of our classroom to see if they can take refuge from a dinosaur chasing after them! (The dinosaurs are 1:40 scale models, too.)
Once this is done, students should understand that sometimes floor plans and plan views that architects, builders and engineers use daily are scaled versions of the actual building. Students get into groups of 3-4 and plan an earthquake proof building. Their assignment is to use scale (1 square = 4 feet) and create a floor plan for a high rise building. Students will then use their imagination to draw the front view of the building.
When these are done, students turn them in for an area. (Lab hint: Having students turn in their floor plans BEFORE the earthquake table part is essential as some earthquake locations are poor and will NOT be able to purchase supplies. As a result, students don't turn in their floor plans and it lowers their grade on the assignment)
Students pick a location to build an earthquake proof building. Each area has a set amount of money they can use to pay salaries for employees and for supplies. Since this is designed so that some buildings will fail on the earthquake table, this portion of the lab should be graded on participation and effort. Again....some buildings will fail and shatter, much to the amusement of the students!
The conversations that are generated from all of this are great! We talk about building standards in different countries around the world and the socioeconomics of areas. These are important concepts for students to start thinking about since they are our future!