Make a shaker maker

Lets get cross-curricular with Design and Technology!

Well it's time to reveal my latest construction. Unlike the flume, this contraption took half an hour to put together. What is it? An earthquake simulator obviously!

The house of the bears
watch quick downloading video!

And a special Hi to all the people here!!

You have no idea how long I've wanted one! Imagine then my delight at finding the plans for such a device at Discovery, along with some truly excellent learning activities.
Excitedly I rushed round to Homebase and spent three quarters of an hour looking for the materials and trying to convert the measurements into metric. I couldn't find any of the bits required by the plans, so I bought the absolute cheapest alternatives, and forgot about sticking to the suggested dimensions.
On returning home I was able to assemble the earthquake generator during Neighbours, happily incorporating some changes to the original design as I went along. The resulting shaker table is neither the same size nor the same quality as Discovery School's example, BUT it's incredibly cheap (£12.34), takes less than 30 minutes to assemble and requires no gluing, drilling or indeed any effort at all. The only tools used were a saw (not required if you get the chipboard cut in the store), a hacksaw, a tape measure and some sand paper.
I thoroughly recommend that you follow the instructions as outlined by Discovery School, which will no doubt result in a much higher quality product, (that will see you shaking your way through many Ofsted lessons). My version, which you can make during a lunch break, is presented below, so that you can see exactly how easy it is to put together!

What you need to buy:

Sheet of chipboard (12mm) £3.00
Hardwood dowel (12mm) £2.99
2m length of 22mmm overflow pipe cut into 4 sections £1.59
4 x 90 degree bends (22mm) £2.78
2 packets of cup hooks hooks with screws on the ends (£1.98)
4 elastic bands (free from village post office)

what you need


Cut the overflow pipe into four equal lengths (that's 50cm each!)
Make a rectangular frame out of the pipe, using the 90 degree elbows.

detail of corners

Screw a cup hook into opposing sides of the frame as shown in the picture. This locks the frame together so no need for glue (and you can disassemble later.)

table surface

Trim the chipboard to a 45cm square and then cut the edges off as shown.
Carefully screw a cup hook into each corner of the chipboard. The wood might split so take it easy, (although you could always use glue to disguise poor carpenter skills) Cut 2 pieces of dowel (around 70cm each and place them over the frame (parallel with the edges that contain the hooks)

corner detail

Attach the rubber bands to the frame and corresponding hooks on the chipboard, and adjust the tension to suit.

There are one or two suggestions for your table that you may like to try after you have shaken your way through various tall / short / wide / narrow / heavy / light household objects.
Changing the elastic bands for bigger /smaller ones will change the characteristics of the earthquake.

Use offcuts from the chipboard to raise the sides of the table (forming a tray). Now you can experiment more easily with various substrates (mud, sand, ball bearings, roof slates, jelly, sponge cakes or whatever. Even get some liquefaction going!)

Hopefully the D&T department will have lots of little wood offcuts to use as building blocks for experimenting with different designs.

Find or make the various objects for the experiments designed by Discovery School. This really is a superb lesson plan. I really like the idea that students could help design and make the earthquake generator.

The activities described in the lesson plan work best with students in small groups. With access to the Internet, younger students could try the activities at the excellent prediction activity to be found at Earthquake Interactive. Both of these online activities would complement a cross curricular day with D & T.
I carousel this activity in four parts. I use the shaker table to get students to experiment with different structures before they design an earthquake proof building. The second activity uses an interactive whiteboard and the New Bay Bridge site. Thirdly, students record events of the Bam quake in December 2003 using BBC video clips. The final activity gets students to think about planning for earthquakes, and I use this site as a stimulus. This sequence of activities allows the class to explore several concepts about building design, and the Bam case study provides a useful counterpoint when debriefing.The classic Virtual Earthquake is a good extension activity introducing the different types of shock waves and the science of locating the epicentre of a quake.