Augh, now I’m looking at the word earthquake and I’m sure it’s spelled wrong even though my computer says otherwise. Back to the activity. A few months ago we studied earthquakes as part of our earth science studies using Bright Idea’s Press’ CKE earth and space (affiliate link, side point LOVE it).
As you can imagine there was a lot of excitement in the house when I said get out: LEGOs, blocks, marshmallows, and toothpicks.
First we did a quick review of a few causes of earthquakes.
Earlier we’d learned a bit about plate tectonics and how the plates moved against each other. That can be one of the causes of earthquakes, so we reviewed that and then headed off to build earthquake proof buildings.
Earthquake activity supplies needed
- earthquake building printable
- Wooden Toothpicks*(more on those last two at the end of this lesson)
I got out an old cookie sheet and we set about building and demolishing houses.
First the LEGO buildings. The assignment for each activity is to build one short and wider building and one taller and thin building. Then predict which building will work better for earthquakes (it is really hard to type when you can’t stop sneezing).
But after a rather more difficult earthquake than I think any real building would be subjected to, the tall skinny one broke in half.
Our block buildings fared considerable worse. The tall thin building completely fell apart, and the short one was rather shaken up (shaken up, get it?). Sadly there’s no pictures because I attempted to get a video of it, only to discover the video was upside down. With fingers in front of the lens half the time.
Our poor marshmallow houses didn’t even survive building, shoddy materials I’m sure.
What did we learn from our earthquake activity?
Construction materials matter. Blocks while looking sturdy are not as sturdy as the LEGOs because they can’t lock together. More complicated buildings are not a good idea in earthquake prone areas, and taller buildings have more problems.
As to our marshmallow dilemma. Two things:
- We should have used stale marshmallows, I’ve heard they work better, or gum drops.
- Fancy toothpicks do not work for building with (my poor husband didn’t know why I wanted toothpicks, so he thought they looked “fun”)
But, it was a fun activity, and we did learn a lot from it.
Check out the rest of the STEM A-Z series for more great activities to do with your kids.
If you’re looking for more earth science ideas, check out my pinterest board, there’s over 100 ideas to try with your kids.