Burke Town School Students Designs Earthquake Resistant Houses


Shown with their earthquake resistant homes are members of Tracie Surridge’s science classes at Burke Town School: seated from left, Kadienne Whitcomb, Arya DeGeorge, Parker Whitcomb, Thayne Wyman, Gabrielle Rice and Avery Tomczyk; standing, Brittany Webber, Aiden Bogie, Kenny Callahan, Zack Ekasala and Sophie Roush. The students are dressed for Wacky Day in celebration of the school’s Winter Carnival.

The fourth-grade students in Tracie Surridge's science classes at the Burke Town School have been embracing the Next Generation Science standards by becoming engineers and creating solutions to lessen the impact of a natural disaster on humans. They have been designing "Earthquake Resistant Houses."

Students used multi-media (videos and books) to explore what would make a house earthquake resistant. They then created a materials list and set the criteria that their projects would be judged on.

Using everything from marshmallows and plumbers strapping to popsicle sticks and straws, the students used their knowledge of flexibility, X-bracing, K-bracing and shock absorbers to design the best possible houses.

On Feb. 19 they put their creations to the test on a shake table on loan from Lyndon Institute. The students had set the criteria that their houses had to last longer than 10 seconds during a 7.5 earthquake. They also added weighted sand bags to test the strength of their creations.

All of the houses successfully met the criteria. Not happy with that result, the students have decided to push their designs. After vacation they will redesign their houses and put them to the test with more weighted sand bags and an 8.5 earthquake!


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