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Make a model earthquake vibrating machine


Core National Curriculum links

Science, Computing, DT

Other National Curriculum links

Geography - Find out about earthquakes

Main engineering principles

  • Pupils are engaged in the purposeful practical problem solving
  • Pupils take ownership of the design and make process
  • Pupils embrace and learn from failure
  • Pupils draw on a range of thinking skills and personal capabilities


A series of lessons


System thinking, Problem finding, Creative problem solving, Improving

EDP stages

Imagine, Plan, Create, Improve

Resources required

cocktail sticks, marshmallows, jelly, tray, orcrumble microcomputer, motor, batteries, glue sticks

Summary of activity

Make something that will act as a model earthquake using jelly.

To open the activity

Can I make something to demonstrate what effect an earthquake might have on a building?

The main activity

Make a cocktail and mashmallow structure. Place it on a jelly base.
Program a crumble computer to turn a motor (use 'crumble' software which can be downloaded free)
Stick the motor on the side of the tray and switch crumble on.

Challenge and support

Can you make the motor go on and off, backwards and forwards, faster and slower?

To finish the activity

What happens if you use two motors or make your structure higher?

Learn from me (what worked well for us)

Make sure the jelly is set beforehand.

Links for pupils

Internet images on simple cocktail and marshmallow structures.
Earthquake imformation

Links for teachers

Images and videos on earthquakes

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