This has to be one of my favourite lessons when teaching earthquakes. Students love the creative and hands on learning experience when asked to design their own personal earthquake resistant building.

In pairs, students are given thirty toothpicks and mini marshmallows which are used to design their earthquake resistant buildings. In addition, each pair is given a ‘challenge card’ which instructs them to include a specific feature in their design or to design a specific type of building i.e. skyscraper. Access the challenge cards FREE… HERE!

The aim of this activity is for students to understand various architectural strategies incorporated into building designs to withstand the impacts of earthquakes, as well as how complex the design process is.

During the activity students must complete a number of tasks:

  1. Illustrate earthquake resistant model
  2. Create earthquake resistant model with the resources provided
  3. Complete a shake table test, using jelly
  4. Summarise what was observed during the shake table test
  5. After testing, review your design

Answer the following questions;

  • Did it topple?
  • What could you have done to make it stronger?
  • What alternations would you make i.e. height, width, shape, base?