Project 3 How can we make sand stand tall?

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: How can we make sand stand tall? Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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 1


Session 1
Questions

What are the characteristics of sand?

What is reinforced sand?

space


Activities

Team-building activity

Introduction of the Problem Solving Process

Demo of reinforced sand

Whole group discussion


Resources

Problem Solving Process

Printable directions


Outcomes

Describe the characteristics of sand.

Explain what sand reinforcement is.

Session 2
Questions

What is reinforcement?

What is soil reinforcement?

What is the purpose of soil reinforcement?


Activities

Watch video on soil reinforcement

Hands on activity

Whole group discussion

space


Resources

Problem Solving Process Diagram

Video on soil reinforcement


Outcomes

Explain what soil reinforcement is

How can we make sand stand tall?


Intro 5-10 minutes

A facilitator explains the overall Soil Project:

What is the Soil Project about?
Groups learn about soil and sand and how sand can be made strong enough to uphold the weight of a building.

Why?
Sand is used because it is the most cost efficient construction material compared to brick and concrete. Who are you going to work with? In small groups with a 6:1 teacher ratio.

What is expected from you?
While guiding small teams of students within your groups (two groups of three per educator), you will work together to facilitate the understanding of different classifications of soil (gravel, sand, silt, and clay) and how to make each mixture stronger using different reinforcement materials and techniques. Together as students and facilitators, we will learn a vast amount of scientific knowledge regarding soil. We, as as team of researchers, pre-service teachers, and educators, will use our combination of knowledge as he help facilitate students’ understanding of material science and how it plays a role in civil engineering and how exciting STEM can be.

There will a prize for the winning team!


Team-building Activity 10 minutes

Before we start to work together as a team, we need to get to know each other! Let’s introduce the team members and do some team building activities within students or within students and adults. For data purposes, we’d like students to introduce their name, grade, and why they wanted to be a part of the program.


Introduction of the Problem Solving Process 5 minutes

This is a good time to introduce the Problem Solving Process Diagram to students. Briefly explain the diagram and let the students know that they will refer to this diagram frequently to guide them in the process that leads to the final competition.

Problem Solving Process Diagram
Entry Event 10-15 minutes

The facilitator leads students to work individually as they interact with sand. Each student will have a cup of sand and should be encouraged to touch, pour, and examine it. The facilitator could ask, “What are the physical properties of sands that you can observe? Take a minute and observe, and then describe what you see, smell, and feel.”

Allow students to explore the sand. The facilitator could ask, “Do you think sand could be strong enough to build a wall that you could stand on? Or would it fall flat?” “Why and why not?” The facilitator will introduce the topic of reinforced sand.


Live Demo of Reinforced Sand 20-30 minutes

A BSU facilitator will demonstrate the reinforced sand. The facilitator might ask the following questions to guide students’ understanding of sand.

What are the physical properties of sand? Is it hard, is it soft? Does it feel a little pokey? Has anyone ever been to a beach before where there’s sand? What happens when you walk on it? How about when you sit in it?

Has anyone built a sand castle before? If you have, did it fall apart or stick together? How did you get it to stick together?

Is sand strong enough to build a house, a wall?

Can sand stand tall to form a shape like a cone or a cylinder?

How can we make sand stand tall?


Procedure Demonstration

1. Slide the face board into place.

2. Place the first sheet of paper so that the second crease is flush with the angle between the bottom and the front of the box (Figure 4-3 a below). That is, place the 2.5 inches of paper between the second crease and the end of the sheet vertically against the face board.

Figure 4-3-a

3. Pour in and level a one-inch layer of sand (lift, in civil engineering parlance; Figure 4-3 b below).

Figure 4-3-b

4. Then fold the reinforcing paper down over the leveled sand (Figure 4-3 c below).

Figure 4-3-c

5. Place the second reinforcing sheet in the same manner as the first, followed by the addition of sand.

6. Continue the process until you have placed about ten lifts. The last flap of paper is tucked down into the top sand lift or covered with a little extra sand to hold it in place.

7. At this stage, students can hypothesize results (whether the sand will spill out when the front panel is removed) and the facilitator can tally answers on the board to see who guessed correctly later.

8. Remove the face board. The wall will stand (Figure 4-4 below).

Figure 4-4

9. At this stage, students can estimate how much weight the paper wall can support (note: at least 200 pounds is possible).

10. Invite each student to stand on the wall (with the help of an adult).

Credit: Chapter 4 in Elton, D. J., & Elton, D. J. (2015). Grounded!: Amazing classroom demonstrations in soil mechanics.

Printable directions found here: A Retaining Wall Made of Paper.


Resources

Copier paper, 8.5 inches - 11 inches

Custom box with removable front panel

70 lbs of dry sand

Be sure the sand is at least air dry. Paper is hygroscopic and loses most of its strength when wet. Use dry sand.

Volunteers


Whole Group Discussion

The facilitator will lead a discussion on the demonstration with the following questions. The facilitator will also briefly introduce the final competition at this time.

What are some physical properties of sand (that we could visually observe)?

Is sand strong enough to build a house?

Can sand stand tall (if we want to use sand to build a tall cone or cylinder)?

How can we make sand stand tall?


Final Competition Objectives

The main objective of the final competition is to design and build a reinforced soil wall that can stand tall without deflection and carry a load of 5 kg using some reinforcing materials provided.

The facilitator will tell students that more details about the final competition will come later in the program.


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?

Do you have any questions about the project?

Do you have anything else to share?

How can we make sand stand tall?


Entry Event 15 minutes

A facilitator reviews, “In our last session we looked at how we can make sand strong and how sand can create a structure when it is reinforced. Let’s watch a short video reviewing some of the new terms we learned.” Facilitator should proceed to show an highlighting soil-reinforcement and how this applies to engineering: (Please skip the part of the shear stress if needed).

After the video, the facilitator asks “What did you observe about how soil needs to be reinforced?” The facilitator pauses, allowing the students to share observations they made. Facilitator continues, “In our last session we experimented with our own reinforced sand. Today we are going to learn more about reinforcement and the purpose of soil reinforcement.”


Facilitator plays the following video on reinforcement and will lead a discussion 20 minutes

Video of Reinforcement

The facilitator will lead a discussion using the following questions:

What is reinforcement?

What is soil reinforcement?

What is the purpose of soil reinforcement?

What are the advantages of soil reinforcement?


10 minute break


Reinforcement Small-group Hands-on Scientific Inquiry 20 minutes

Students in small groups (2 students per group) will work together to test the idea of reinforcement. The facilitator asks the following questions to guide student activity:

How does the reinforcement work?

What is the purpose of reinforcement?


Procedures

Students bend the pool noodle. Document the behavior/characteristics of the pool noodle.

Students insert a plastic dowel to the pool noodle. Students bend the reinforced pool noodle. Students document the characteristics of the reinforced pool noodle.


Resources

9 Styrofoam (Pool noodles)

9 Plastic dowels


Whole Group Discussion 10 minutes

The facilitator asks students to share their experiences/observations in the activity. The facilitator leads a discussion on the guiding questions:

What is reinforcement in this activity?

How does the reinforcement work?

What is the purpose of reinforcement?

The facilitator helps students connect this experience with reinforcing soil.


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?

Session 1

Copier paper, 8.5 inches - 11 inches

Custom box with removable front panel

70 lbs of dry sand

Be sure the sand is at least air dry. Paper is hygroscopic and loses most of its strength when wet. Use dry sand.

Volunteers

Printable Directions: A Retaining Wall Made of Paper

Problem Solving Process Diagram