Lernabenteuer an der GIS

Learning Adventures at GIS

Mar 22 2017

Science Fair 2017

By Stefanie Amann, Head of Elementary

This year’s science fair was a huge success. Students and classrooms presented over 50 projects!  I enjoyed the wide range of topics – lava lamps, plant experiments, some fun inquiry in how the eye can see color and many more!

     

               

Focus on Earthquakes

In addition to exhibiting science projects, this year’s focus on earthquakes gave students and families multiple opportunities to engage with the topic of seismic activity and its effects on individual households and the world at large.

A geotechnical engineer, Ben Mealue, visited GIS to show our 4th grade students a possible effect of an earthquake on soils. The phenomenon is called liquefaction – it can cause buildings to sink into the liquefied soil – similar to quicksand.

     

The students came up with ideas how to make a building safe, by placing “pencil piles” in the soil to mitigate the effect of an earthquake. The students' idea is used in real construction, too. Rock piles stabilize buildings during an earthquake.     

Students also learned about earthquake relief from GIS mother, Adela. Her expertise centers around the Ecuador earthquake emergency relief efforts.  

Our Extended Care Coordinator, Ashley Parsons, rounded out our experts, by sharing with our community some tips for creating earthquake preparedness kits for your own home. Above you can see some of the supplies recommended by the Department of Homeland Security for your kit.

Emergency Supply Checklist

Great Earthquake Challenge

For this year’s science fair we added a hands-on component that allows all students to engage – and so the Great Earthquake Challenge was born!     

Throughout the last week, students worked in small groups to design and build the most stable tower out of a bag of pre-determined materials. As you can imagine, this is easier said than done! But students utilized the knowledge they learned from experts like Ben Mealue, as well as applied IB concepts and attitudes, in completing their projects. 

Students collaborated in their small groups. They tested the stability of their models using a “test shake” before making further adjustments. These students took risks and problem-solved –  regardless of whether their tower construction won the "Great Earthquake Challenge" or not, they all learned some important lessons along the way. Just like in real life, not everything works perfectly the first time you try it – and we all learned that we are much more successful when we collaborate.     

New Approach to Earthquake Response

As a part of an innovative approach to seismic upgrades, GIS and Core First are in the process of changing our earthquake response plan significantly with the goal to make our school a safer. Our school will be the first school in the country to have state-of-the-art  CoreFirst Sanctuaries  installed in our building. These sanctuaries are coupled with an Earthquake Early Warning System (EEWS) that will forewarn and protect our students and staff. The sanctuary layout (pictured below) is on view in the lunchroom - we encourage you to have a look if you haven't already!

     

As we plan this exciting project, we will continue to share with families what to expect from the new approach. The science fair was a great opportunity for us to engage in conversations and activities that bring the topic to life.

I hope you enjoyed science fair night just as much as I did. I learn something new here at GIS every day, but our students’ science fair projects always amaze me.