JFK Elementary – STEM Field Trip (2.14.20)

On Friday, February 14th we had another STEM field trip, this time a visit from 5th grade students (x45) from the JFK Elementary School, returning for their second year. Today we learned all about Natural Disasters and how Engineers (and ourselves) can prepare for them.

In the morning, the students learned about Natural Disasters/Hazards and compiled a list of potential Natural Threats to humanity – an interesting ongoing threat that was brought up is the ongoing Locust Swarming in East Africa. The students then took their turn becoming Engineers – solving a problem! As Climate Change leads to rising sea levels, Boston will increasingly become under threat from flooding (Boston Flooding Mapper), in the form of floods but also high tide in general. To prepare for this upcoming threat, the city of Boston has established a plan for contending with Flooding. For East Boston specifically, they’ve decided to develop a deploy-able levee – unlike the permanent ones in/around New Orleans, these would be put in/take out of place onto roads during floods/tides. As such, our students made prototype designs of these levees, making sure they could be deployed in and our in 30 seconds, and seeing how long they could resist the oncoming flood. In the end, designs lasted between 2.78 seconds (water sneaking under design) and 20.79 seconds (using sand/duct tape). Unfortunately, many of the designs using sand were unable to un-deploy their designs in time, so were disqualified (as the road they are deploying on should still be usable afterwards). As such, the winning design lasted 9.4 seconds, plus was very affordable.

Afterwards, the students split into two groups and flip-flopped activities. One set had lunch and participated in a College 101 session as well as a Campus Tour, exploring the tunnels (including the Seismometer), the site of the First World Series, the Echo Chamber, the Pool/Gym, and other various sites. The other activity was visiting Northeastern CEE Department’s Earthquake Shake Table, where the students learned about resonance frequency and designed K-NEX buildings to resist an Earthquake. In addition, the students were able to stand on the shake table and feel firsthand what an Earthquake feels like.

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