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 7


Session 1
Questions

Task Challenge: Design and Construct a bridge over the Boise River to resist an earthquake


Goal

To build a strong bridge for Boise river


Activities

Test the bridge and make modifications


Resources

Bridge Building Materials

Shake Table


Outcomes

Building bridge (in progress)

Session 2
Questions

Task Challenge: Design competition for a bridge over the Boise River to resist an earthquake


Goal

To build a strong bridge for Boise river


Activities

Test the bridge and make modifications


Resources

Bridge Building Materials

Shake Table


Outcomes

Building bridge (in progress)

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


Entry Event 5 minutes

The teacher starts the session by distributing the design sketches that were submitted at the end of the last session. The students get 5 minutes to go over their designs and role assignments that were made at the end of the last session. Then students are directed to start building process.


Building a Bridge 45 minutes Part 2

Student Instructions 15 minutes

Collect all K’NEX components and prepare site for the start of construction.

Lay out all your K’NEX components for easy and fast access to help the bridge construction.

You are not allowed to pre-assemble any parts of the bridge before construction starts.

Once construction has started, pre-assembly of bridge parts can take place.

Start Bridge Construction 30 minutes

Bridge construction.


Bridge Testing

Once all teams have completed building their bridges, the teacher starts the testing process that includes loading, earthquake simulation and reloading.

Loading requirement The bridge should support 2 kg anywhere on the load without any bending

Earthquake performance The bridge should receive ‘OK’ or ‘Caution’ performance remark

Reloading requirement The bridge should support a loading of 1.5 to 2.0 kg anywhere in the load without any bending


Discussion Among Design Teams 10 minutes

Depending on their performance of their bridges, students discuss what worked and what did not work. Then, students discuss what they could have done differently and note those points in their journals.


End of Session Reflection and Debriefing 5-10 minutes

Teacher briefly explains the computational thinking (CT) skill embedded in the Problem Solving Process Diagram. 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 minutes

This session is a continuation of the design challenge that started in Week 7 session 1. Students are asked to recollect their experience last week with bridge design and construction. Depending on what went wrong with their particular bridge, students are given 10 minutes to discuss what changes they think will result in a better bridge performance.

For teams whose bridges passed the required specifications, they are asked to check the economy of the bridge. Students go through the table below and estimate the total cost of their bridge. Then, they try and optimize their design to meet specifications for a lower cost bridge.

Redesigning, planning, preparation of plans and rebuilding


What to do first 10 minutes

Review the test results from the bridge testing

Review the design task challenge again understand the rules of the competition.

Make sure that all members of your team understand what has to be accomplished and the rules of the competition. If unsure ask your teacher to explain.

Good planning is the key to any successful project. During this phase it is up to your team to look at the resources available – human as well as material – and to plan how best they can be used to complete tasks within the time available.

Redesigning and Preparation of Plans 20 minutes

Brainstorm ideas to improve the design:

Use a flip chart (if available) or a large piece of paper to write down everyone’s ideas before discussing them one by one.

Every person on the team has a valid contribution to make and every idea should be evaluated on its merits.

Remember to check with the design details to make sure your ideas keep on track.

Assign tasks to team members.

Produce plan drawings (front, side and top elevations).

Decide how the bridge will be constructed.

Produce estimates for the K’NEX building materials.

Present the bridge design for the project to your teacher before the end of this session.


Rebuilding 20 minutes

Students can modify the bridges they built in the last session. If the bridge completely collapsed after the testing in the last session, they start from scratch. If not, they can just modify existing bridge. This will be the final design of the bridge that will be tested in the next session.


Student Led Presentation 15 minutes

The students discuss their experiences and consider what are most important aspects of this process to share. This discussion should follow the individual group roles established by the instructor during the research portion of class (e.g. recorder, internet researcher, simulation participants, time-keeper, and presenter).

The students discuss decisions for how to best proceed with the bridge-building project with other groups. The teacher asks questions to clarify student choices and reasoning.


End of Session Reflection and Debriefing 5-10 minutes

Teacher briefly explains the computational thinking (CT) skill embedded in the Problem Solving Process Diagram. 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?