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This page will help students understand different building techniques to improve structure stability. Read through this page with students and engage them in a whole-class discussion sharing their thoughts and ideas about seismic isolation. Ask students questions such as, “Can you think of other examples that could help keep a skyscraper stable during an earthquake?” “How can these ideas be applied to robotics?”

A Photo Showing the Tall Skyscrapers in Downtown San Francisco
San Francisco, in the United States of America
A Diagram Showing How Tall Buildings Can Use Seismic Isolators to Withstand Intense Shaking
Normal buildings are not designed to withstand shaking. Adding seismic isolation makes them sturdier in an earthquake.

Seismic isolation helps prevent major catastrophes!

Conventional buildings are constructed with the foundation laid right into the ground. Buildings built this way will shake with the earth if an earthquake occurs there. This would cause extensive damage due to the severe shaking motion.

Seismic isolation (or base isolation) is when the building is built on top of pads or flexible bearings. When the building is built this way, the building structure is resting away from the ground. This allows the entire building to move in a slow horizontal motion during earthquakes. Reducing the shaking makes the building safer and sturdier in an earthquake.

Many cities in the world commonly have earthquakes, such as San Francisco. Builders there design buildings to use base isolators to make them safer. Even though this costs more money to do, the added safety is worth the cost.