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Grade Range
6th-8th
Group Size
2-4 students
Active Time
90 minutes
Total Time
90 minutes
Area of Science
Civil Engineering
Key Concepts
Natural disasters, structural engineering
Learning Objectives
  • Analyze data from simulated earthquake tests to determine how well a base isolation system performed.
  • Understand that technology can reduce the impact of natural disasters on humans.
  • Compare the test data from two competing solutions and determine which solution was better.
works with google science journal app
decorated house earthquake base

Overview

Explore how technology can save lives in this fun engineering lesson plan! Earthquakes can cause devastation and loss of life when they strike, but earthquake-resistant buildings can stay standing and keep people safe. In this project, your students will build model earthquake-resistant buildings and measure their movement during a simulated earthquake using Google's Science Journal app.

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
  • MS-ESS3-2. Analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their effects.
  • MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Analyzing and Interpreting Data. Analyze and interpret data to determine similarities and differences in findings.

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions. Apply scientific principles to design an object, tool, process, or system.

Engaging in Argument from Evidence. Evaluate competing design solutions based on jointly developed and agreed-upon design criteria.
ESS3.B: Natural Hazards. Mapping the history of natural hazards in a region, combined with an understanding of related geologic forces, can help forecast the locations and likelihoods of future events.

ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions. There are systematic processes for evaluating solutions with respect to how well they meet the criteria and constraints of a problem.
Patterns. Graphs, charts, and images can be used to identify patterns in data.

Stability and change. Stability might be disturbed either by sudden events or gradual changes that accumulate over time.

Credits

Ben Finio, PhD, Science Buddies

Materials


Materials for earthquake table project

Testing Station (at least 1 per class, more if you have multiple phones available)

  • Smartphone with Google's Science Journal app, available for free on Google Play for Android devices (version 4.4 or newer) or from the App Store for iOS devices (iOS 9.3 or newer).
  • Double-sided foam tape
  • Stopwatch
  • Ruler

For each group of 2–4 students:

  • A standardized object to use as a "house." For example, small cardboard boxes or plastic food storage containers. See the Lesson Plan Variations section for ideas on how students can build their own houses.
  • Piece of corrugated cardboard that is larger than the base of the "house"
  • Materials to build an earthquake-resistant base:
    • Corrugated cardboard
    • Assorted round objects to use as rollers: markers, marbles, etc.
    • Assorted shock-absorbing objects: rubber bands, cotton balls, erasers, springs (you can get springs at a hardware store or by disassembling ballpoint click pens), etc.
    • Assorted attachment materials: pushpins, binder clips, paper clips, straws, string, stapler, etc.
  • Object that is about the same weight as the phone (box of pencils, plastic baggie full of coins, etc.)
  • Masking tape or Scotch® tape
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Stopwatch

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Grade Range
6th-8th
Group Size
2-4 students
Active Time
90 minutes
Total Time
90 minutes
Area of Science
Civil Engineering
Key Concepts
Natural disasters, structural engineering
works with google science journal app
Learning Objectives
  • Analyze data from simulated earthquake tests to determine how well a base isolation system performed.
  • Understand that technology can reduce the impact of natural disasters on humans.
  • Compare the test data from two competing solutions and determine which solution was better.

Class Materials