BOSS Model: Building Oscillation Seismic Simulation
This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection
This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are
- Scientific Accuracy
- Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
- Pedagogic Effectiveness
- Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
- Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page
For more information about the peer review process itself, please see https://serc.carleton.edu/teachearth/activity_review.html.
This page first made public: May 24, 2018
Building Oscillation Seismic Simulation, or BOSS Model, is an opportunity for learners to explore the phenomenon of resonance for different building heights while performing a scientific experiment that employs mathematical skills. They experience how structures behave dynamically during an earthquake.
The BOSS model helps learners explore how building height impacts a building's response to different earthquake wave frequencies. This version is made with wood but simpler materials such as paper and spaghetti can also work well.
This activity could be done with introductory learners in secondary school or even early college. Can be used in conjunction with a Earth science unit or as a practical example of engineering design in an engineering or physical science unit. It can also work for informal education or public outreach venues as a demonstration or interactive.
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
Learners should know what earthquakes are.
How the activity is situated in the course
This activity can largely stand alone once learners know what earthquakes are. However in a larger unit on earthquakes it should probably come later when the topic moves from understanding what earthquakes are to how they affect our society and address steps we can take to mitigate earthquake risk. Works well in conjunction with Build a Better Wall
and Base Isolation for Earthquake Resistance
Content/concepts goals for this activity
Learners will be able to:
- Predict how a structure will react to vibrations (oscillations) of different frequencies.
- Describe the phenomenon of resonance.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Perform an experiment to establish the relationship between the height of a structure and its natural frequency.
Other skills goals for this activity
- Working in groups
- Using physical models
- Recording measurements, averaging, and graphing.
Description and Teaching Materials
See attached file for educator notes, NGSS alignment, links to supporting resources, and student exercise.
BOSS Model: Building Oscillation Seismic Simulation Activity (Acrobat (PDF) 1.7MB May20 18)
Activity page 1 preview
Teaching Notes and Tips
There are several different ways to build a BOSS Model. See above educator notes.
The student worksheet, if used, serves as the summative assessment for the activity. In that case the instructor should develop a simple couple-point scheme for grading the open-ended questions. However, some instructors may choose to just use this activity as a less formal activity. If that is the case or if one is working with an informal audience, learner understanding can be gathered from questions to and discussions with small groups or the whole group.
References and Resources