Children are always intrigued when they are faced with a supernatural situation! Don’t Freak Out! is a fun challenge that requires students to design and build a prototype of a house that will not be affected by earthquakes.
This lesson starts off with an emergency announcement in which the Zombie Apocalypse Prevention Team needs engineers to design a house that will withstand an earthquake and protect us from zombies. Students are immediately engaged in this urgent message. Teams are tasked with creating a designing a blueprint of a potential fix to the problem and more importantly, engineer a prototype to test their thinking.
Students are afforded the opportunity to test their structures on a shake table, a mechanism used to simulate an earthquake situation. One of the keys to success in a STEAM Design Challenge is that we encourage students to enhance and modify their thinking but not start over.
If the structure did not withstand the earthquake, teams are encouraged to make modifications but are not allowed to start over. This thought process is often challenging for students as they do not like failure, however the encouragement to modify and enhance rather than start over teaches perseverance.
The pictures show students at work with designing their prototype to protect them from the zombies and withstand an earthquake! Notice the variety in their thinking based upon the chosen materials. Which do you think would stand up to a zombie attack and an earthquake?