Shakes and Quakes brings first-graders to Newmark Lab crane bay

5/15/2017 3:20:08 PM

Above: First-graders celebrate the last LEGO tower standing during a simulated earthquake.

 

On April 28, 2017, the crane bay in Newmark Civil Engineering Laboratory was visited by over 200 first-graders from Sangamon Elementary School, located in Mahomet, Ill. The students were on site for Shakes and Quakes, a morning-long event that introduced them to some basics of engineering.

The children came prepared with LEGO towers they previously constructed in their classrooms, using tips provided in advance by CEE at Illinois structural engineering professor Bill Spencer. In the weeks prior to the event, CEE at Illinois graduate students visited the Sangamon classrooms to act as “engineering consultants” and help the children with their buildings. The towers were constructed with attention to four criteria: strength, appearance, height and usage of windows. The first-graders brought their completed towers to the crane bay to see how they would hold up in a simulated earthquake. Students from CEE’s Smart Structures Technology Lab operated the shaking tables and judged the outcomes. 

Students jump on an instrumented platform to make their own "earthquakes."
Students jump on an instrumented platform to make their own "earthquakes."
Nearby, volunteers from the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute student organization manned a "make your own earthquake" station. One by one, the children jumped on a platform while sensors recorded and displayed the results on a computer screen. A printout of their personal earthquake was given to them to take home.

At other stations, the Sangamon students were introduced to different engineering fields. CEE students from the American Concrete Institute (ACI) student chapter gave the first-graders a crash course in mixing concrete, which they used to fabricate coasters to take home as souvenirs. Across the street in the Ven Te Chow Hydrosystems Laboratory, the first-graders learned about flow visualization around objects in a demonstration wind tunnel; sediment scour around objects; flow patterns near dams and dam safety; effect of vegetation on attenuating (weakening) surface waves; and propelling boats by changing the surface tension of the water with soap.

Robbie Damiani, a member of the ACI student chapter who helped out at the concrete station, said he and other students volunteer for events like Engineering Open House and Shakes and Quakes because it gives them a chance to show visitors how intriguing civil engineering can be, and to inspire a new generation of researchers.

Judging by the shouts of excitement that filled the crane bay, they succeeded.

 

Robbie Damiani helps visiting students mix concrete to make souvenir coasters.
Robbie Damiani helps visiting students mix concrete to make souvenir coasters.
Graduate student Matt Czapiga demonstrates how small boats can be propelled forward by changing the surface tension behind the boat with a drop of soapy water.
Graduate student Matt Czapiga demonstrates how small boats can be propelled forward by changing the surface tension behind the boat with a drop of soapy water.

 


The event organizers thank the following CEE at Illinois students and staff for their assistance in making the Shakes and Quakes event a success:

Tim Prunkard, Matt Czapiga, Dimitrios Fytanidis, Roberto Fernandez, Sanjani Gumidyala, Andy Waratuke, Vedhus Hoskere, Yuguang Fu, Amirali Najafi, Tu Hoang, Tanmay Ramani, Peisong Wu, Gaston Fermandois, Fernando Gomez, Yasutaka Narazaki, Hao Zhou, Koji Tsuchimoto, Dongyu Zhang, Guangpan Zhou, Zhicheng, Addie Lederman, Guillermo Dankert, Robbie Damiani, Omar Jadallah, Kathleen Hawkins, Yu Song, Ardavan Ardeshirilajimi, Palash Badjatya, Jamie Clark and Kavya Vallurupalli.