Project 2 Earthquakes and Boise River Bridge

STEM+C Projects

A Project-based STEM+Computing Inquiry

About

This project was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Grant Number 1640228. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this project are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Dazhi Yang at dazhiyang@boisestate.edu or use our Contact Form.

Description

This project-based scientific inquiry project: Earthquake and Boise River Bridge Design is centered on researching different types of bridges, various aspects of earthquakes, and seismic safety features of bridges. In this project, students work in small groups to explore different bridge types, the destructive aspects of an earthquake, and the safety features for bridges that could resist earthquakes. Then students will design an earthquake-tolerant bridge and test their design with an earthquake simulator. To develop computational thinking and an understanding of STEM subjects, students from 4th, 5th and 6th grade will work in small groups of six, with one in-service teacher and one pre-service teacher, twice a week for eight weeks in a community centers after-school program.

Implementation

Please refer to the weekly activities (such as Week 1 Session 1 in the left sidebar and Resources from the sections below) for detailed information on how to use this project either in a classroom or an informal setting such as in community centers' after-school programs. The twice weekly sessions were originally designed to be 90 minutes in length, including a 10 minute break in the middle of the session. See photos of prior implementations on the projects' photo pages.


Week 5


Session 1
Questions

What can we do to resist an earthquake?

What are the considerations for designing a bridge strong enough to resist earthquakes?


Goal

To design a bridge

To build a strong bridge for Boise river


Activities

Research the location of the bridge

Sketch/draw the final bridge design/model

Building a bridge


Resources

Bridge Videos


Outcomes

Sketch and design of bridge model

Session 2
Questions

What are the considerations for building a bridge for the Boise River strong enough to resist earthquakes?


Goal

To build a strong bridge for Boise river

space


Activities

Building a bridge

space

space


Resources

Readers and Readings


Outcomes

Presentations of findings

How can we build a bridge for the Boise River that is strong enough to resist earthquake forces?


Entry Event 5-10 minutes

A teacher shows the ; PAUSEs and asks “What do we now know about earthquakes? ”;

Teacher shows students a picture of the Earth’s layers (at 1:09 in the video), showing the inner core, outer core, mantle, and crust; PAUSEs and asks “Where do earthquakes start?”;

Teacher shows students a picture of the Earth’s tectonic plates (at 1:32 in the video), demonstrating the plate boundaries, and how they bump into each other (at 1:42 in the video); PAUSEs and ask “What is the cause of earthquakes?";

Finally, the teacher shows students a picture of what happens when an earthquake occurs (at 2:46 in the video); PAUSE and ask “What could we do to resist an earthquake?”

Ask students to have a hypothesis of how to resist an earthquake and then set out to test their hypothesis through research.


What can we do to resist an earthquake? Small-group Hands-on Scientific Inquiry 40 minutes

Students in a small group of two independently research about earthquakes, their causes, and ways in which to resist earthquake forces. This background should assist students in their research on ways to counter the negative effects of earthquakes. Students take notes from the resources below to use in their presentations.


Resources

Posters for Presentation

What is an Earthquake caused

Earthquake Formation

Types of Earthquakes

Earthquake Facts

Cool Earthquake Facts


Student Presentations 20 minutes
(students presentations need to closely be related to the sub questions and learning outcomes) Two 10 minute sessions

Suggested approach: Half of the students hang their posters up, and present their research to the remaining students. The poster items will reflect on earthquakes and their causes. After 10 minutes, the two groups of students switch roles with the original presenters who become the audience and the other half of the students who hung up their posters for their presentations. Students can also use Google slides, however the teacher needs to remind students of the limited time available to work on their poster/slides.


End of Session Reflection and Debriefing 5-10 minutes

Using the Problem Solving Process Diagram, the teacher will ask students to identify what kind of problem solving skills/process/computational thinking they used in this session and explain how they used it. The following are some sample questions that can guide the debrief.

What did I learn today?

What problem solving skills/processes or CT components in this diagram did I use today?

How did I use the problem solving skills/processes/CT components?

How can we build a bridge for the Boise River that is strong enough to resist earthquake forces?


Entry Event 5-10 minutes

Teacher reviews key concepts from the previous lesson by asking, “Do you recall, what causes an earthquake?” PAUSEs to allow students to answer. Proceeds, “We talked about ways that buildings resist an earthquake. Let’s take a look at how this is done for bridges.”

A teacher directs students to watch about a video (3:31) titled by National Geographic.

Teacher asks students if there are any bridges they can recall seeing in Boise? Teacher asks, “Do these bridges look like the one in the video? Do you think these bridges could withstand an earthquake?”


What considerations are needed to build a bridge for the Boise River strong enough to resist earthquakes? Small-group Hands-on Scientific Inquiry 40 minutes

Students in a group of three research different types of bridges and locations on the Boise River to answer the two sub questions above; the students will decide what type of bridge to consider and vote or suggest different bridge types and locations; one person needs to be in charge of recording the decisions of the class (the teacher needs to discuss the individual roles within the group and the rotation of roles in this process: e.g. recorder, internet researcher, simulation participants, time-keeper, and presenter); students present their decision to the teacher, with one person leading the discussion - why did they choose the bridge type?


Resources

Eduweb’s Bridge Type Earthquake Simulator (San Francisco Bay Area)

Boise River Information

Top ten bridges in Idaho

Reader 6: Different Types of Bridges


Student-led Presentations 20 minutes

The students meet to discuss their research findings and consider what points are most important to share. This discussion should follow the individual group roles established earlier during the research portion of session (e.g. recorder, internet researcher, simulation participants, time-keeper, and presenter).

The student presenter(s) communicates their research findings and decisions for how to best proceed with the bridge design. The teacher asks questions to clarify student choices and reasoning.


End of Session Reflection and Debriefing 5-10 minutes

Using the Problem Solving Process Diagram, the teacher will ask students to identify what kind of problem solving skills/process/computational thinking they used in this session and explain how they used it. The following are some sample questions that can guide the debrief.

What did I learn today?

What problem solving skills/processes or CT components in this diagram did I use today?

How did I use the problem solving skills/processes/CT components?