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Shake but not break: Thani students design earthquake-resistant buildings


Introduction to Thanit newspaper

As part of their latest project, pupils at Upton Junior School learned how to create a building safe during an earthquake.

Year 4 children investigate the causes of earthquakes and how structures are designed to withstand natural tremors and aftershocks.

“Children learn that the Earth’s surface is made up of a lot of moving masses called plates, and when they suddenly slide on top of each other or separate from each other, it causes an earthquake,” explained Nicola Sedgwick, fourth-year president.

They investigated how buildings were constructed to be earthquake-resistant, including:

Steel frames to allow the chassis to move with jerks, automatic window shutters, shock absorbers that absorb earthquakes, and even computer-controlled weights to help reduce motion.

After all this learning, the kids – at home and at school – had fun designing their own structures.

They came up with a series of ideas made of flexible materials that bend and move but can return to their original shape.

The shape and foundations of the building are also important considerations, and this has resulted in a set of thoughtful ideas.

This included a plastic basin that was modified as a building on springs, to absorb earthquake energy, anchored to a continuous outer wall and a vaulted roof.

An adventurous youth even placed an oscillating gel on the table next to his construction to illustrate the movement of the earthquake, while his building remained safe and stable by comparison.

Upton Junior School, Broadstairs, is part of the Viking Academy Trust with Chilton Primary School and Ramsgate Arts Elementary School.

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