Design Technology - earthquake resistant buildings

As the final part of our Connected Curriculum topic exploring volcanoes, earthquakes and Iceland, the children completed a DT day to consider how people can live safely in seismic zones.  One of the ways people, who live in cities in countries such as Japan, can live more safely, is because architects and engineers design earthquake resistant buildings.

Firstly, the children researched different buildings around the world and observed that they were constructed from materials that, although strong, were also flexible.  This means that during an earthquake, the structures are able to move with the tremor and then return to their regular position afterwards.  They also noticed that the designers of earthquake proof buildings used techniques, such as cross bracing, to make them strong yet flexible structures.

After researching the techniques, the children designed and constructed their own prototype buildings - just like an architect would.  First, they measured and made cubes using art straws and then they added cross bracing to make them stronger.  They discovered that they could then use different size cubes to create different shaped buildings that would be strong yet flexible.

Once built, the buildings were tested to see how well they would support 250g of weight and withstand an earthquake (which was the table being shaken for 10 seconds).  Some were more successful than others, as it was a valuable opportunity to learn. In their final evaluations, the children considered what went well and what they would improve next time. 

Year 4 thoroughly enjoyed the project, and the children learned a great deal about the ways in which people can live more safely in earthquake zones.