Pupils put to an earthquake challenge
Press release issued: 27 March 2007
Pupils from 13 local schools will put their engineering skills to the test in an exciting challenge run by the University of Bristol's Earthquake Engineering Research Centre (EERC) and At-Bristol on March 28 and 29.
Over 80 pupils aged 13-14 from 13 secondary schools in the Bristol area will work in teams 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's Earthquake and Large Structures 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) website 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's Civil Engineering Department to be tested to destruction on the BLADE (Bristol Laboratory for Advanced Dynamics Engineering) Earthquake Laboratory 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 three teams creating the most efficient models will win cash prizes of 1st team - £100; 2nd team - £60 and 3rd team - £40.
The competition is funded by the University of Bristol's Widening Participation and is run in collaboration with At-Bristol and Bristol City LEA gifted and talented strand.
Dr Wendy Daniell, a research fellow in the University's Department of Civil Engineering and who developed the challenge with Dr Adam Crewe, said: "The IDEERS project, now in its sixth year, has become a firm fixture on the school calendar. With disasters from landslides, floods and earthquakes frequently in the news, the project shows the students the work that engineers can do to protect people from the Earth's natural hazards and that civil engineering is an interesting and valuable career.
"By doing research for the challenge, building their designs, and seeing their model buildings tested, the students are able to link the knowledge and skills they have learnt at school to real world challenges."
Further informationThe 13 schools taking part in the challenge are:
Whitefield Fishponds Community School; Speedwell Technology College; St Bede's Catholic Secondary School; Fairfield High School; St Bernadette Catholic Secondary School; City Academy (St George); Bedminster Down Secondary School; Portway Community School; St Mary Redcliffe & Temple Ceva Secondary School; Brislington Enterprise College; Monks Park Secondary School; Hengrove Community Arts College; Hartcliffe Engineering College.