Orange County Branch Newsletter

May 2017

K-12 Outreach

The Shake Table Challenge


By Steven Taylor and Jenny Mital

On Friday, February 24, a small group of civil and environmental engineers visited Castille Elementary in Mission Viejo for a presentation and demonstration of civil engineering in action. A class of second and third graders briefly saw of great glimpse of what civil engineers do for the community and world in small and big ways through a short presentation provided by the engineers. The students had amazing and engaging questions that showed their enthusiasm for civil engineering. The second part of the event consisted of building their own structures out of legos and then testing them against a make-shift earthquake. The “shake table” that was used consisted of four small round balls between two 9”x9” wood boards. The lego structures were then attached to the top with rubber bands and each structure was shaken until it failed. Students cheered as structures withstood the pseudo earthquake, and cheered even louder as other structures collapsed and shattered. In the end the students and teachers both expressed their thanks for the presentation and fun activity. There is a strong chance that these student will flourish in engineering.

On Friday March 10, three engineers visited Thorman Elementary in Tustin for a Civil Engineering and lego shake table activity similar to the one at Castille Elementary. The entire third grade (approximately 90 students) participated. The students watched the trailer for Dream Big and then got an introduction to the world of civil engineering through the powerpoint presentation. Their patience was rewarded with the best part of the activity: building and testing their lego structures on the “shake table”. Students watched in horror and excitement as lego towers with names such as “Trump Tower” and “The Unbreakable Tower” wobbled and sometimes catastrophically crashed to the ground.

The K-12 committee plans to hold more school presentations and encourages new members to get involved by signing up for future k-12 presentations, which are typically posted on the ASCE calendar. No prior experience is required, only enthusiasm for engineering! Contact the k-12 committee for more information: K-12 Chairs [email protected]

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