Event: Quakes and Shakes at Stanley Clark School 2002

When: Wednesday, 2/13/02 (Visit #1) & 3/6/02 (Visit #2)

Where: Stanley Clark School, South Bend, IN

EERI Members Participating: President Tracy Kijewski-Correa, Vice President Brian Morgen, Secretary Nelson Duran, Treasurer Ethan Kubatko, Devin Brown, Yong Gao, Aaron Vorwerk, Brad Weldon and Tiphaine Williams

Summary: Continuing an annual tradition, EERI members returned to Stanley Clark Middle School to challenge its students in the design of LEGO "masonry" buildings and K'NEX "steel" buildings. As always, the students were incredibly enthusiastic and willing to accept the challenge. This year, 45 5th grade students participated in the program, forming 12 construction companies.

On Shake Day, the companies each prepared a small presentation discussing the motivation for their design and some of the obstacles they encountered. The competitive fire was obvious, as some teams made half-hearted accusations of copyright infringement and even sabotage! However, the presentations, all in good fun, demonstrated the concept of teamwork the students used in their design process. Some teams even prepared jingles and interactive presentations to promote their building.

Prior to testing, the EERI members voted for the most aesthetically pleasing building. A careful tally of the secret ballots revealed that Sarah's Skyscrapers' design, with its decorative twisted spires, was the crowd favorite. Team members Jennifer Mills, Sarah Khan and Colin Leader were awarded honorary architecture degrees from the University of Notre Dame. A "score card" was posted at the front of the class to monitor the progress of the teams in three categories: aesthetics, earthquake performance and rental profits. Then, things really heated up with four rounds of preliminary testing on the earthquake table. Amongst cheers of winning teams, six buildings advanced, surviving the most intense random excitations EERI could muster -- quite a testament to Stanley Clark's engineering acumen.

In the finalist round, the six buildings were subjected to very intense high frequency excitations. Successively, one after another failed, until one remained! Frog Inc.'s Dylan Hurwich, Anne Ormson, Jacqueline Graham and John Rudzinski prevailed in the Shake Off and were awarded honorary structural engineering degrees from the University of Notre Dame. All the winners were presented with small prizes as a reward for their hard work. The owners award was also presented to the team which most maximized rental space in their design. This award was presented to Hansen White, David Peyer, Lauren Gazdick and Taylor Henry of White's Water Resort.

For the K'NEX project, engineers were recruited from the various companies. They formed two teams, each representing one of the fifth grade classes. The K'NEX demonstrations manifested the dynamic motion common to many tall buildings. EERI members were even successful in revealing numerous modes of excitation, even torsional. Amidst a swirl of controversy, it was difficult to select a winner, as both 5th grade classes constructed Landmark Structures of impressive height and complexity. Neither failed under the worst motions available from the portable earthquake table. Therefore, both structures were deemed survivors of the quake!

During the process of this exercise, it became apparent that true engineering was at work. Teams worked "overtime" to perfect their designs, modifying them after weaknesses were determined. It was a truly iterative process, as is every engineering project. One team even developed a self-centering mechanism, a set of arms, allowing the building to fail at the base but be able to "catch itself" before toppling and ride the quake out. Unfortunately, under the fast moving quake, the inertia was too great and the building was not able to catch itself before the table jerked out from under it. In addition, teams consciously strengthened bottom floors to avoid soft story failures and judiciously staggered windows to avoid weak links. Several teams also incorporated the concept of cores in their structure to serve a stabilizing spine allowing more windows on the perimeter. For both the EERI members and the students, it was a true learning experience.

By the end of the morning, it became evident that the activity had made a lasting impact not only on the young students, but also on the participating EERI members and teachers and parents who looked on. The enthusiasm surrounding EERI's participation even attracted area television crews, who featured the outreach activity on the evening news.

EERI President Tracy Correa explains how the "Shake Day" will proceed...

K'Nex structures similate steel structures

Lego Buildings simulate unreinforced masonry structures

A 'company' presents their unique design

All 12 companies buildings are ready to go!!!!

The 'Shake Off' FINALS!!!

The shake table setup

Every 'company' presents their building to the class and each explain how the architect, engineer, owner, and builder all worked together to reach this design




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