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Sixth Grade Experiments for Earthquake Resistant Structures Building structures that stay sound during earthquakes are

a real life engineering challenge. Sixthgraders studying earthquakes should work on experiments for earthquake resistant structures to learn about the science behind earthquake-proof buildings. According to CNN, buildings that are flexible and sway during earthquakes are stronger than conventional buildings. Student experiments should include learning about basic building, creating models, working with different architectural challenges and building earthquake resistant bridges.

o Students should initially learn about engineering earthquake-proof buildings by building without any earthquake warnings. This experiment will teach sixth-graders about basic building with materials such as cards, wooden sticks and tape. Ask the children to build structures in the bottom of a cardboard box. After the structures are complete, shake the boxes lightly to simulate a small earthquake. The students should analyze how to reinforce the structures and work on the buildings again. The boxes are then shaken harder to simulate a much stronger earthquake. Students should compare the buildings to find what the best designs were. To learn more about how structures withstand earthquakes, students should build models. A simple experiment to create an earthquake is making gelatin in a 8 1/2inch square pan overnight. Students will build structures with toothpicks and marshmallows in cubes and triangles stacked into towers. The bases of the towers can have large or small "footprints." Only 30 marshmallows and toothpicks should be distributed to each sixth-grader to represent the limited resources many engineers have. Once the structures are complete, the structures are placed on the pan of gelatin. Shake the pans back and forth for the simulation or secondary waves of an earthquake. After the tests, students should analyze the best structures. Once students have a basic understanding on earthquake resistant building, students should research a variety of architecture for a variety of landscape challenges. Students should be given three experiments with building plastic straw structures.


Architectural Challenges

One experiment is to build a plastic straw structure that will withstand a high impact earthquake, or a heavy book dropped next to it. The second experiment is to build a hillside home. The third experiment is create a structure on an unstable surface. The hillside home will have a box of staples dropped on it to demonstrate falling debris. The third experiment will be placed on marbles with more marbles rolling onto it to represent a rolling type earthquake. These experiments will demonstrate the real challenges engineers have when building for earthquakes.

o Earthquake resistant bridges are just as important as buildings. Sixth graders can experiment which types of bridges best withstand earthquakes. Students will build different types of model bridges such as suspension and cable. Once the models are built, an earthquake simulator should be created from two pieces of wood with PVC pipes built in between. Place the model bridges onto the earthquake simulator and

add weights on top of the bridge. Analyze which type of bridge will hold more weight during an earthquake.

Distribution of Weight for an Earthquake-Proof House While it may be impossible to completely earthquake-proof a house, engineers at Penn State University are working to design a better formula for distribution of weight in a building so it can survive an earthquake.

Techniques to Distribute Weight

o Engineers and architects use devices such as foundation bolts and floor-to-wall connection brackets to distribute the weight of a building to help hold it up against gravity during an earthquake. However, to distribute weight for the sideways force that an earthquake causes, homeowners need to create a rigid boxlike structure of their home by tying together the walls, roof and floor. This is common in houses that were built after 1978. Ali Memari, Ph.D., an architectural engineering professor at Penn State University, is researching a "fuse" system that uses a lumber or concrete disk the size of a hockey puck that provides support while allowing the sideways movement of an earthquake to pass through a wall and a door or window frame. If, however, the force of the earthquake is too much for the "fuse," it will break. But the wall is still safe, and the "fuse" can be replaced afterward. The engineers at Penn State University create mini earthquakes on a specialized table that simulates the shaking of an earthquake and then take the results to a laboratory with a life-size wall. Here they can test the amount of weight that a structure's masonry infill walls and beams and columns can bear. This testing shows where the weaknesses are and aids in making houses earthquake-proof.

Engineers and Earthquakes


Weights and Measures


Which Building Materials Should Be Used When Building an Earthquake Safe Structure? To resist the impact of an earthquake, a structure must possess flexibility coupled with tensile strength. The lighter the building material, the less chance of injuries to or entrapment of anyone inside. Although it is next to impossible to completely earthquake proof a structure, builders' attention to design principles and construction materials can mitigate the severity of damage or loss of lives in the event of a strong earthquake. Wood ranks highest in withstanding seismic waves, reports Math-Science Nucleus. Timber houses are prevalent in earthquake-prone areas of California. Coming in second are buildings made of steel. Both materials have the capability to flex when the earth shakes. Steel may also be added to weaker materials to strengthen them. Framing a structure with steel or driving beams through the walls can help support a building when an earthquake strikes. Less safe building materials to use in earthquake country include brick and stone. Engineers have developed measures to improve the flexibility and strength of these choices, however. Because bricks break easily when seismic activity strikes, two problems need to be

Timber and Steel

Reinforcing Brick Buildings

bypassed. Too tight a fit between bricks and masonry and the wall means the wall is likely to be damaged by tremors, but if builders have left a gap, the wall will lose support. The solution, according to Science Daily, relies on tiny wood or concrete discs placed between the wall and frame. The discs give some leeway, yet provide support.

Super adobe
Adobe and stucco also rank low as earthquake-resistant building materials. Modifications have led to a new product, Super adobe , which is tubular sandbags filled with adobe that has been reinforced with barbed wire or plastic or nylon mesh. Used mostly in rural settings, this new adobe allows fewer traumas to the structure during an earthquake. Adding a second layer to an adobe or stucco building is not advisable unless there is a separator placed between the layers. Surprisingly, some of the cruder materials used for home construction in other parts of the world have withstood earthquakes exceptionally well. For example, bamboo is a lightweight substance that bends. If a bamboo structure falls, it does little damage. Straw and grass buildings also rank high in earthquake resistance, if a roof is attached; however, simple structures of bamboo and grass provide little protection from other weather conditions.

Primitive Materials

How to Make an Earthquake-Proof Structure Making an earthquake-proof structure can mean the difference between life and death. The enormous tremors caused by a shaking of the earth's surface result in vibrations that collapse rigid buildings unable to withstand the pressure. The trick to successfully constructing an earthquakeproof facility is flexibility. Your structure must adjust to the rocking and shaking without coming apart in the process. Instructions 1. o 1) Build a continuous-perimeter foundation. Continuous-perimeter foundations set buildings on top of mudsills, foot plates underlying wooden frames that help reduce sideways load pressure, which is the force created by weight structures that shake from left to right.. The mudsill must be wider than the frames that will rest on top of it; if using 2-inch-by-4-inch frames, lay a 2-inch-by-8-inch mudsill frame, for example. Lay the mudsills horizontally on the foundation, and secure them to the foundation with -inch epoxy bolts. Hammer 10-D common nails down into the mudsills every 6 feet to secure the framing material to the mudsills. o 2) Eliminate the use of concrete or bricks. Because they are inflexible, hard, rigid materials such as these distribute little to no sideways load pressure, resulting in extremely concentrated vibrations that end up pulverizing of the substance. o 3) Drill 2- to 3-inch-diameter vents in plywood framing panels, 2 inches above mudsill lines and below top plates. Diameter vents allow air and energy to more easily distribute throughout the structure, reducing vibration and pressure. o 4) Round the edges of windows. According to "Science Daily," the main reason for shattering windows is vibration beginning in the corners of the windows. Installing windows with round and polished edges reduces drift capacity while shaking. o 5) Add fuses between walls. Fuses are 3- to 4-inch wide wooden panels placed between walls and frames. Fuses are compressed as buildings shake and absorb most

of the pressure. Fuses may shatter in the process, but may save wooden and brick walls as a result.