Monday, January 21, 2013

Can You Survive Earthquake Tighe?

My students have been studying the Earth's land and water features in science. While going over earthquakes I decided to shake things up a little bit (no pun intended). I originally got this idea from another teaching blog, Hojo's Teaching Adventures. You can select the following link to see her original post If you haven't checked out this blog, it is great and full of wonderful ideas. Anyways, I really liked her idea of creating earthquake proof buildings using marshmallows and toothpicks. So I tweaked her idea a little bit to make this activity work with my third graders, and they loved it!

I divided my students into groups and posted the following problem on the Promethean Board for the students to solve.

I gave the students seven minutes to plan their first structure using 20 toothpicks, and ten marshmallows. I really like using the timer from It provides the students with a musical and visual reminder of the time. For this activity, I used Mozart Symphony 21 because it is about seven minutes long. After the timer went off students had to stop working on their structures.

Now for the fun part! I went around and tried to destroy their structures by shaking the desks the structures were placed on. I timed how long each structure was able to stand, and gave students an opportunity to modify and rebuild their structures. I repeated this step one more time. After three tries, all of the students had earthquake proof buildings!

This activity was a great way to review vocabulary and apply skills that we had previously learned in our lessons. I will definitely be using this activity again in the future!

For more Earth's Features Unit ideas go to the following link,, to view my  Earth's Features Unit Essentials product on TeacherspayTeachers.

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