We spent yesterday being geotechnical engineers in the classroom and had such a great time doing so! The kids learned about the layers of the earth, and the different layers of soil. They learned why it is important to choose building sites carefully. They reasoned and explained why buildings need to be built carefully in areas prone to earthquakes and problem solved to find ways to make buildings more stable during earthquakes. It was truly impressive… And we’re not done yet!

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First we looked at a sample building site and determined the layers of soil that we saw (sand and clay)

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Then Mrs. Bristle placed a skyscraper on top of our site and shook the site to simulate and earthquake…tragically the sky scraper fell down!

That led us to the question of “How can we make buildings more stable?” We decided that we could anchor the buildings using piers, but didn’t know how far we needed to anchor the piers in order to be stable. From here, the kids took over!

Each group was given a model building site and a skyscraper.

First the kids took core samples of the soil so they could determine the ground make up of their model site.

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Then they predicted which layers they would need to anchor into in order to make their building most stable. One site had 4 layers (soil, sand, clay and bedrock) and the other site had 3 layers (soil, sand and clay). Once they made their prediction they attached anchors (dowel rods) to their building and tested the anchors at each layer by simulating an earthquake.

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We then came together as a class and debriefed. We found that anchoring the building into the clay or bedrock was the most stable, and that of the two sites the site with bedrock would be the preferred building site.

The kids worked so hard on this and used awesome thinking and reasoning skills. We are so excited to start the next part of this next week!

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