Earthquake-Resistant Building Lesson Plan with Google’s Science Journal app

Earthquake-Resistant Building Lesson Plan with Google’s Science Journal app


In this project your students will design
earthquake resistant buildings using Google’s Science Journal, an app on your phone that
can measure acceleration. Watch what happens if I attach the phone to
this model building that is attached directly to the ground, or this piece of cardboard,
and then shake the cardboard to simulate an earthquake. You can see that we get minimum and maximum
accelerations of roughly five meters per second squared. Now, watch what happens if I put the house
on these markers that act like rollers and allow it to slide relative to the ground. You can see that we have much lower minimum
and maximum accelerations of less than one meter per second squared. This happens because the markers function
similarly to a base isolation system in a real building that isolates the movement of
the building from the movement of the ground, allowing the ground to slide back and forth
under the building during an earthquake. However, this simple design is not perfect,
for example there is nothing stopping the building from drifting off to one side and
falling off the markers. In this project it will be up to your students
to improve the design using common classroom materials. For example you can add rubber bands to keep
the house centered, but be careful, if the rubber bands are pulled too tightly, they
can actually make the oscillations worse. You could add padded stoppers to both sides
of the building that prevent it from rolling off the tracks. But again be careful, if these stoppers are
too close to the building or too hard, they could cause the spikes in the acceleration
to increase. You can even get rid of the rollers entirely
and try suspending the house using straws and string. Your students can use a combination of these
methods, or completely different ideas that they come up with on their own, to try and
reduce the peak accelerations felt by the building during a shake test. To view written instructions for this lesson
plan, as well as thousands of other science and engineering project ideas, visit us online
at www.sciencebuddies.org.

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