Build & Test Earthquake Proof Buildings | Smart Science Projects

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Project Overview:

This project will show you how to make an earthquake shake table to simulate earthquakes at different frequencies. Connect the model with a microcontroller to measure and visualize the earthquake intensity in Mind+. Then you can build earthquake-proof structures and test out their seismic resistance.

Background Knowledge:

1.Earthquake Simulation

The model simulates seismic ground motion during an earthquake. With a rotation sensor, you can change the speed of the motor to generate movement at different frequencies. It will be inspiring to test the effect of short and high-frequency earthquakes on buildings with different heights.


2.Earthquake Measurement

A nature earthquake creates motions on 3 axes, but since our shake table is moving along the same direction, it will be easy to measure the acceleration on the X-axis with a micro:bit, to give you an accurate result of how strong is the earthquake. Fix the micro:bit at the top of the building, plug it with your computer, open Mind+, and let the data fly.


3.Earthquake Resistance

There are many ways to create earthquake-proof buildings, the most commonly used for tall buildings might be Tuned Mass Damper (check Taipei 101). I used several screw nuts as weight and suspend them from the top. You might need to test the height and length to get a better result. Add more structures like frames, braces to check how strong is your building.


Build the Model : 


1 Box & 1 Cardboard
16 Straws
18 Pipe Cleaners
7 Bottle Caps (6 normal sizes, 1 slightly bigger)
4 Bubber Bans
1 Push Pin


1 micro:bit
1 BOSON Mainboard 1IO
1 BOSON Rotation Sensor
1 BOSON Motor Controller
1 BOSON Geared Motor

Get the BOSON module pack:

icon dimension-template(letter-size) 411KB Download(12)

Make the Shake Table:


Make the Building Structure:


Activity 1.1 : Measure the Earthquake Intensity

icon 174KB Download(29)

Fix the micro:bit on the top of the building, we can visualize the acceleration data from micro:bit to a data graph.

Download the sample program and open it in Mind+. Press the green flag to run the program, it will ask you to input the time you want the data to be captured. Then press the SPACE bar, it will generate a grid automatically. Press A to draw your first piece of data.

Activity 1.2 : Compare Earthquake-Proof Resistance

Comparing two pieces of data on the same screen, it's obvious to see how effective the earthquake-proof structure is. Press A to draw your first piece of data, when it's done, press B for the second piece.

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