In May 2006, several members of our team made a classroom site visit to Lewiston-Porter Middle School in Western New York. Two 7th and 8th grade technical classes of teacher, Mark Rivard, had constructed physical building models for the activity. Allowing just one class period to build the models, the students performed admirably, completing the task within the allotted time. The students showed their engineering creativity by providing cross bracing in one of the models—an effective way of reducing deformations in buildings subjected to earthquakes.
Using a portable shake table, the MCEER team tested the student-crafted models under simulated earthquake shaking conditions. The extremely flexible models made them difficult to damage, but provided a great opportunity for students to see the actual deformations of a building as it underwent a simulated earthquake. However, after adding sufficient weight to the models, they eventually collapsed, much to the students’ delight – undoubtedly the most exciting part of the afternoon – despite the engineering objective of preventing collapse. As an added bonus, channel 4 news attended the activity and featured the group that evening on television.
Connecte²d Teaching colleagues, Gilberto Mosqueda, Deborah Moore-Russo and Sofia Tangalos, hosted two Buffalo Academy of Science Charter School seventh grade classes for a full morning of activities including a presentation, tour of UB’s SEESL lab and demonstration. Gwen Clarke and Antwan Barlow two counselors representing UB’s Science and Technology Enrichment Program (STEP), participated as well, encouraging underreprestented minority students to pursue collegiate studies in STEM subjects and speaking briefly about opportunities at UB. The 40 BASCS students are part of the Buffalo Public School District in western New York and attend a unique school offering an enhanced science and math curriculum.
Led by their teacher, Ms. Elaine Nieman, the students had previously studied seismology concepts related to math topics using several lesson plans from the Connecte²d Teaching website. They had also used the Shake & Quake simulator prior to Creating the Model. The students were very eager to have Professor Mosqueda test their 3-D models on a mini shake table to assess the model’s ability to withstand several intense earthquakes, including Northridge and Kobe. The group visited UB on May 23, 2007.