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Shake, Rattle, and Roll! It’s the Earthquake Challenge!

Shake, Rattle, and Roll!
Are you ready for this? It’s earthquakes and jiggly jello…… and, boy do I have a story to tell you!
STEM Challenge: Can you build an earthquake resistant structure? Make it several floors tall and then shake it!
Okay, so I know you have seen these on Pinterest. I spotted a pin about two years ago and saved it to my idea file and recently decided it was time to give it a try.

Here’s My Story…… and I’m Sticking to it!

So, first I needed some pans of jello. That seemed easy. I bought pans at the dollar store and real jello because I thought generic jello might not mix right and then I’d have 8 pans of runny, gummy gunk.
I decided to go on a Sunday afternoon and make all these pans in my classroom. I mean, seriously, how could I have made all this at home and then transported it to school? A better questions is why I needed eight pans of jello. 
Well, I usually have 7 groups and I figured every group needed a pan. And I better make an extra because somebody always spills something.
Anyway, I made 8 pans. But they needed to be refrigerated. Oops, I hadn’t thought that far ahead. It turned out that the mini fridge that goes with our portable, rolling kitchen cart was available and I just rolled it right into my lab. And, miracle of all miracles, I was able to use plastic trays and stack all those jello pans. And, a bonus was that my lab smelled like fruity, tooty for three days. Just sayin’…

Now, it’s finally time for the kids’ part in this jiggly mess.

STEM Challenge: Since the foundation for the structure is unstable, you must build a house that can still remain intact after being shaken!
Mind you, I had planned to do this with third graders and I did try a class of the little engineers. Then I swiftly made the decision to move on up to 4th grade. The toothpicks and marshmallows presented quite a challenge in building a sturdy house!

STEM Challenge: Build an earthquake resistant house and then try it! Give it some vigorous shaking for 15 seconds! Will it stay upright?
After building their houses they placed them in the shake pans and shook them vigorously, but not violently. Say that three times fast!

Did all of them work? Take a look below!

STEM Challenge: Buildings that are not built with stable connections may topple over in this challenge!
Nope, some of them collapsed.
Some hints for you: 
  • Have paper towels on hand and wet wipes cause kids are going to touch the stuff just because they want to make sure it’s real jello.
  • A least twelve of them will ask if we are going to eat the jello.
  • At least one group is going to make some wonky something that won’t stand up on its own, much less standing up in jello.
  • They will LEARN something from this- as silly as it seems to be.

We spent time talking about building codes and creating structures that will move with an earthquake, but not collapse.

It was FUN!

And just because I like to make iMovies I have one of some of our houses being shaken! Take a look at our movie:
There you have a peek into a recent challenge. This one is part of the Earth Series created especially for April and Earth Day, but it will work great all year long!
Go back and read last week’s Wednesday post about Solar Ovens. Click {HERE}


  1. Unknown says

    Love your comments and the helpful tips at the end! Thank you! I'll be trying this with my class as well!