EERI students shake up Roswell North third graders – and teach them a little something about structural engineering

Friday, October 3, 2014

Five members of the Georgia Tech chapter of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute introduced more than 100 Atlanta-area third graders to structural engineering this week.

They packed up a shake table and some model-building supplies and spent the day at Roswell North Elementary teaching about and demonstrating scientific inquiry, risk reduction, problem solving and troubleshooting in earthquake engineering research.

Photos by Ellen Cormack.

Doctoral student Pablo Vega teaches Roswell North Elementary students some basics of earthquake engineering.

"We have a STEAM initiative at Roswell North where we have dedicated time every day to have our students participate in activities that involve science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Georgia Tech single handedly came in and met these objectives in one 45-minute lesson that the students loved,” said teacher Melissa Trice. “The lesson on earthquakes and building safe, stable architecture had our students engaged, and they were eager to use their critical thinking and problem solving skills. The students were able to get their hands on their own materials and design and build their own safe structures. Then the students placed their structures on the shake table … to see if their structure could withstand the movement of an earthquake. The students were excited to watch their real-world, hands-on activity come to life. Many great conversations were had once the students were back in the classroom. “

Sujith Mangalathu (left) helps a group of third graders design and build their test structure while Farahnaz Soleimani (right) helps another group with their model.
Jiqing Jiang (left) and Farahnaz Soleimani watch just before the shake table testing of two model structures.

"At Roswell North, we are seeking authentic learning opportunities that allow our students to think critically, problem solve and tackle real-world issues,” said Principal Kindra Smith. “This type of real-world learning is exactly what STEAM is all about. As the principal of RNE, It thrills me to have real scientists and experts working directly with our students on activities that engage them and get them excited about learning.”

The EERI group with Roswell North Elementary Principal Kindra Smith. From left, Pablo Vega, Farahnaz Soleimani, Sujith Mangalathu, Smith, Jiqing Jiang, and Parsa Banihashemi.