Shaking up science


David Davis (10) and Samantha Rusch (10) shake the popsicle stick building to simulate earthquake movement. This lab required students to learn about building safety.

Ruth Chen, Author

There is more to the technology behind safety during natural disasters than meets the eye. Mrs. Roberta Harnish’s, Science, fourth hour Earth Science class explored the elaborate mechanisms of earthquake safety on April 14.

By constructing popsicle stick structures, students replicated earthquake force on their structures.

“Hopefully, [the students] had an opportunity to explore engineering and building design as it relates to earthquake movement. That was the goal of the project,” Mrs. Harnish said.

Because earthquakes rarely take their toll on Indiana, students can often overlook their magnitude.

“[The students] probably weren’t quite sure what it meant to have earthquake-type energy move through a building, because in Indiana we are blessed; we rarely have earthquakes. The ones that we have experienced are very minor, so we don’t have the damage and devastation that other parts of the world have,” Mrs. Harnish said.

Personally simulating earthquakes provided students with a new perspective on earthquakes.

“It’s one thing to see [earthquakes]; it’s one thing to read about it, and it’s another thing to build the structure and send the energy through it and  see whether or not your building survives and what factors help a building survive [an earthquake],” Mrs. Harnish said.