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Teacher Tips icon Teacher Tips

The towers used for this challenge could be those designed and built at the end of the Play section. Or, they can be informed by students' experiences during the Play section but new towers designed and built for this challenge. That decision depends on whether groups still have their towers built and/or if time restrictions permit new designs.

Earthquake Platform With a Silhouette of a Tower
An example of a tower on top of the Earthquake Platform

Test Your Strength!

The Tower Strength Challenge will have you test the stability of your tower to see if it can withstand the shaking while placed on top of the Earthquake Platform.

All group members should check that the tower meets these standards:

  • Must be able to withstand a simulated earthquake that lasts 30 seconds.

  • Should use parts from your kit only (no glue, paper, etc.).

  • Should stand on its own (no hands!).

  • Should be as tall is possible!

The Tower Strength Challenge:

  1. The Builder should check that the Earthquake Platform is ready.

  2. The Tester should place the tower on the platform and make the platform shake.

  3. The Recorder should time how long the tower remains standing and intact and record the time and other observations in the engineering notebook.

Additional Challenge: Create a tower that can hold four wheels with tires at the top while withstanding a simulated earthquake for 30 seconds.

Teacher Tips icon Teacher Tips

Notify students that placing their tower in the middle of the Earthquake Platform will allow for more balance.
Monitor student progress by walking around the classroom as the students are completing the challenge.

Teacher Toolbox icon Teacher Toolbox - An Elimination Tournament

Organize an elimination tournament if time allows where students or groups compete to see whose structure can last the longest. Be mindful of time and call the competition a draw if both structures are still standing after one minute. This tournament can be used as a formative or summative assessment of collaboration. The optional collaboration rubric can be found here (Google Doc/.docx/.pdf).