Structural Designers Challenged during STEM Lesson

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Second graders in Ms. Csorny’s class at Deauville Gardens East Elementary School became structural engineers during a STEM-based activity during the district’s College and Career Day.

After a lesson on earthquakes, why they occur and what happens to buildings and homes during an earthquake, the students were tasked with taking on the role of structural engineer. They learned that no structure is entirely immune to damage from earthquakes but it’s the job of the structural engineer to construct strong buildings that can survive the shaking.

The second graders first completed drawings of the structures before constructing a building out of marshmallows and toothpicks that could handle a simulated earthquake. After each student completed their respective building design, the structures were put to the test in a pan of gelatin. They placed the buildings in the gelatin and shook it vigorously back and forth to mimic the movements of the earthquake. If their structures fell, the students had the opportunity to redesign and retest them.