District Home

Withstanding quakes

posted: Mon, Dec 19th, 2016

Gabrielle Czernik looks on as Daniel Pera and John Conway test the stability of the structure they helped create

MOMS students have a new-found appreciation for the skill it takes to build earthquake-resistant buildings and bridges. Gabrielle Czernik, a structural engineer and a member of the New Jersey Society of Young Civil Engineers, recently guided all students in the school in an experiment to create their own structures able to withstand the shaking and rolling of a quake.

The hands-on STEM lessons were conducted in the cafeteria for six periods throughout the day. Working in teams of three to six, students devised and built structures from marshmallows, paper, and coffee stirrers. Using "shake tables" that mimic earthquakes, the kids then tested the stability and strength of their creations. If they survived the first temblor, the structures were tested using sandbags as weights.

The structural challenge helped students apply their knowledge of science to a project that simulates a real-life problem and helped develop critical thinking skills. Good communication and teamwork were also important for success.

"The level of excitement and enthusiasm was incredible," said David Eisenberg, MOMS' library media specialist who organized Ms. Czernik's visit. "The students saw how the science that they're learning in school is used by a professional engineer who designs the bridges and overpasses they use every day. Showing the relevance between what is taught in the classroom and how that knowledge is applied in the real-world makes learning powerful and long-lasting."

Before the hands-on science, Ms. Czernik discussed civil engineering careers and the most common specializations (transportation, geotechnical, environmental, coastal, water resources, and construction). She also discussed the different types of geological faults that can create earthquakes.

This is the third year in which Ms. Czernik has brought hands-on engineering challenges to MOMS students.

Mount Olive Middle School
160 Wolfe Road Budd Lake, NJ 07828
Questions or Feedback click here
Phone: 973.691.4006 Fax: 973.691.4029

Custom Website Design By JAM Graphics NJ