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Edible Destruction

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Participants use snack foods in an engineering design  challenge to create simple structures (6” or taller) and test – and refine – the structure’s ability to withstand “earthquakes.”

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    Participants Learned from This Activity 
    Activity Instructions Were Clear and Easy to Follow 
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Participants use snack foods in an engineering design  challenge to create simple structures (6” or taller) and test – and refine – the structure’s ability to withstand “earthquakes.”

Data sheet

Related Links Interactive website about the magnitude 7.1 earthquake in Mexico on September 19, 2017.
Most Recent Earthquakes Map
Originating Source STAR Net
Related Books
[Suggest a book]
Earthquake!: The 1906 San Francisco Nightmare by Lynn Brunelle
A Project Guide to Earthquakes by Claire O'Neal
What Protects Us During Natural Disasters? by Lisa Owings
Can We Protect People From Natural Disasters? by Catherine Chambers
Earthquake Games by Matthys Levy and Mario Salvadori
Hurricanes by Gail Gibbons
Avalanche and Landslie Alert! by Vanessa Walker

Reviews

Rating 
Participants Enjoyed the Activity 
Participants Learned from This Activity 
Activity Instructions Were Clear and Easy to Follow 
Would Recommend 
12/06/2017

Mostly Edible, Mostly Destroyed : Total Success

Do you have kiddos who enjoy eating? How about rampant destruction? I’m guessing that the vast majority of you do; when we carried out this activity in Makerspace, we certainly had equal parts fun in building and destroying our projects … with our mouths as often as not!

This program is well-suited to a variety of situations, and it is easy to scale up or down depending on how many participants you’re likely to have. The activity sheets include plenty of further research and resources to tap into if kiddos fall in love with “delicious seismology,” as well as recommendations for jazzing it up with apps and equipment if you have some older children participating.

Some further thoughts:

- As with some of the other activities on STAR_net, it’s well worth providing visual aids! Explain the “key concepts” as laid out in the activity sheets can be difficult without several successful examples already put together or some pictures for reference, and it’s difficult to glue pretzel sticks together with icing when you’re under pressure. Kids can be a tough audience!

- The list of “building materials” you provide can and should be informed by the needs of your own specific community. We had some children with gluten, dairy, and nut allergies/intolerances, as well as some parents who were not keen on their children overdosing on red food coloring or processed sugar. Our final list of ingredients included: graham crackers (there are gluten-free available at many health food stores), pretzel sticks (ditto), marshmallows (not much good news there), fruit roll-ups (again, look to the health food store for better options), icing (unflavored so as to be less palatable), Kit Kat bars (which remained unused, funnily enough), cubed sharp cheese, sliced and cubed apples and other fruit, and celery sticks. The only real ingredient which posed a challenge was the icing; it just doesn’t have a great consistency for glue. Peanut butter or liquid cheese would have made for better glues, but the allergy situation prevented us from taking that route. We also had to measure out the pretzel sticks, marshmallows, and graham crackers as these were in high demand.

- Make sure to put a tarp down! Whether you choose to build a shake table, as described in the activity sheets, or simply drop your structures from ever-increasing heights, you’ll need a big and easy-to-clean space to do the shaking and/or dropping. Shaking simulates earthquakes more perfectly, but our kids ended up being eager for total annihilation and proceeded quickly to the dropping stage.

- Once the kids have sugar in their mouths, it’s really difficult to get them back to the point of processing advanced engineering principles, methods, and consequences. It’s best to narrate these while the kids are building, or even (in an ideal world) ahead of time, in a brief introduction.

- Testing and retesting is a grand plan in theory, but only if the kids aren’t eating *every single* iteration. We highly recommend either (a) telling kids to repurpose the materials from their early structures or (b) requesting that they only eat the final iterations. Otherwise … sugar overload! We definitely had a lot of kids running laps in the meeting room toward the end of the activity.

The activity sheets for this bridge-building activity seem to be geared towards classrooms. This is a great activity for younger kids as well, though—we had almost-three-year-olds to twelve-year-olds participating—so be aware you may need to tweak the design a bit in order to fit your kids.

Librarians: The materials provided offer some great leverage in appealing to school teachers for partnership opportunities. (Think: “Look at how this meets all of your science standards for the semester! Would you like me to bring this activity to your classroom and maybe introduce them to our library makerspace while we’re at it?”) The science standards materials at the end of the activity sheets may actually prove incredibly useful for broadening your library’s reach, although less so on the day of the activity itself.

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Edible Destruction

Edible Destruction

Participants use snack foods in an engineering design  challenge to create simple structures (6” or taller) and test – and refine – the structure’s ability to withstand “earthquakes.”