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Killer Quake!

Classroom Activity

To gain experience with the thinking process involved in constructing an earthquake-proof building.

Materials for each team
  • copy of "House of Cards" student handout (HTML)
  • 1 dozen 4"x 6" index cards for each group
  • 6 paper clips for each group
  • 4 sheets of plain paper for each group
  • 1 empty shoe box for each group
  • sand
  • 1 electric fan
  1. To give students some experience with the thinking process involved in constructing an earthquake-proof building, divide the class into groups of two or three students and have them try this activity.

  2. Copy off the "House of Cards" student handout and distribute to each group. Have groups choose the challenge they want, and then follow the instructions on the student handout to build and test their models. Make sure all of the challenges are chosen.

  3. For students who are working on the wind challenge, set up a room fan 10 feet from the spot where the test structures will stand. Encourage students to explain their reasons for constructing the buildings in a particular manner.

Activity Answer

Challenge #1: Secure the building with a foundation or brace to protect it from sliding. For example, build buttresses against the walls of the structure or bury a broad foundation around the base of the building under sand.

Challenge #2: The vibrations from a book dropping create forces similar to both earth sliding and heavy gusts of wind, making earth-quake-proofing one of the most difficult engineering challenges in architecture. Anchoring the foundation of the building to the box will help keep it from falling over. Keeping the building fairly low to the ground will also help prevent its toppling over.

Challenge #3: A structure with a sloping roof, many angles, and built close to the ground will remain standing in a high wind better than a tall structure or one that has broad, flat surfaces.

Teacher's Guide
Killer Quake!

Video is not required for this activity