Structural Design Challenge Directions

What is an Earthquake?

An earthquake is what happens when two blocks of the earth suddenly slip past one another. The surface where they slip is called the fault or fault plane. The location below the earth’s surface where the earthquake starts is called the hypocenter, and the location directly above it on the surface of the earth is called the epicenter(USGS 2023)

Why Do Building Fall in Earthquakes?

Design Using the Engineering Design Process

The Engineering Design Process helps us figure out problems and solve them like engineers. Today you will use this process to create the tallest structure you can using dots and toothpicks like the examples below.

  • What is my problem? Design and build an earthquake-proof structure.
  • What are my constraints? You can only use dots and toothpicks. (Cardboard for base)
  • Brainstorm some solutions to your problem. 
  • Do some research with your team if needed.
  • Draw out your ideas on a piece of paper. Don’t forget to check the materials list below to include anything you might need. 
  • Materials List: 
    • Dots candy
    • Toothpicks
    • Cardboard for your base 
  • Use your plan to create your project.
  • Test how earthquake-proof your building is using the method shown below. Keep your motions constant so you can compare different trials accurately. 
  • During each “quake” make a note of your structure’s strengths and weakness for future adjustment.
  • Think about what you would do to improve it (make it better) and share with your group. 
  • Ask them for their feedback too and reflect on how you can improve your structure.
  • You will go through the process again and rebuild your earthquake proof structure using the feedback from your group and your own observations.