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What on earth?

24 February 2020

Our Year 7 geographers had an earth-shattering experience last half-term, making their own buildings that would withstand an earthquake!

Before any concerns about health and safety are raised, our pupils created their earthquake resistant structures from cocktail sticks and marshmallows, in the comfort of their classroom. And the earthquake test was then whether their buildings remained standing after being placed on a bowl of wobbly jelly!

Geography teacher, Ms Baulcomb, explains: “Last half-term, we learnt about tectonic hazards, investigating the processes that happen inside the Earth and how these can cause violent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. We focused, in particular, on the devastating 2015 earthquake in Nepal, in which over 9,000 people died and 3 million more were left homeless.

“Our pupils were examining how Nepal could reduce the number of fatalities in any future earthquakes by designing buildings that are earthquake resistant. Working in teams, our pupils had to demonstrate this new knowledge by creating their own building that would withstand our wobbly jelly earthquake!”

As well as exploring their topic from a creative and interactive angle, our pupils developed their team work skills. Working in small groups, they were each tasked with ensuring that their earthquake resistant cocktail stick and marshmallow creation contained a different feature. For example, one team had to design a building that was at least two toothpicks high, while another had to include a triangular shape.

The class ended with each group testing their toothpick and marshmallow structure on a bowl of wobbly jelly. Pupils evaluated the success of their designs and understood how different construction features can withstand the shaking during an earthquake. In addition, thanks to the marshmallows and jelly, there was a very sweet smell in the classroom at the end of that day!

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