Earthquake challenge for young engineers
Press release issued: 6 March 2003
Pupils from local schools will put their engineering skills to the test in an exciting challenge run by At-Bristol and the University of Bristol's Earthquake Engineering Research Centre (EERC) as part of National Science Week 2003, on March 10 and 11.
Eighty pupils aged 13-14 from 15 schools in the Bristol area will work in teams of four to design and construct small-scale model buildings using only MDF (medium density fibre) board, paper, string and glue. The models will have to stand up to artificial earthquakes generated on the shaking-table in the University of Bristol's EERC laboratory.
Since January, the teams have been preparing their materials and planning their designs using the University's IDEERS (Introducing and Demonstrating Earthquake Engineering Research in Schools) web-site (www.ideers.bris.ac.uk) to get advice on how engineers design earthquake- resistant buildings.
On the day of the challenge, they will be given four hours to assemble their models at the At-Bristol science centre. The students will then take their models to the University of Bristol's Civil Engineering Department to be tested to destruction on the Earthquake Engineering Research Centre's shaking-table which produces artificial earthquakes.
At first the models will sway gently as they experience very small earthquakes. Gradually, the magnitude of the earthquakes will be increased, shaking the models violently and eventually causing them to collapse. Through this experience, students will learn how buildings behave during earthquakes and why some of them fail.
The teams creating the most efficient models will win exciting prizes both for themselves and for their school. Prizes are being sponsored by the University and by BNFL Magnox Generation.
The competition is funded under the University's Widening Participation strategy and is being supported by the Bristol City Council Excellence in Cities Gifted and Talented scheme.
Patricia Broadfoot, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Bristol University, said: "The university's Widening Participation strategy aims to strengthen links with local schools to encourage able students to recognise their potential and to consider studying for a university degree.
"The IDEERS project is not only great fun but also an excellent way to show young people that engineering and engineering research are interesting and relevant career paths. It gives them an insight into the kind of work carried out at the university, and the opportunity to link the knowledge and skills they have learnt at school to real world challenges."
John Gaskin, Director of Education and Lifelong Learning at Bristol City Council, added: "The competition is a 'model' example of the sort of exciting and innovative partnership in education that the city council wishes to develop."