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Children inspired at the fifth annual Inspire Festival in Nelson


The Ministry of Inspiration hosted the fifth annual Inspire Festival in Nelson on 13-15 April.  The festival brought in over 2,000 local primary and high school students to learn and engage in the science and engineering fields. 


Speakers from all over New Zealand presented fun, hands-on science and engineering workshops over three days. The Quake Centre/QuakeCoRE workshop on “Extreme Earthquake Engineering” was held twice a day for all three days, reaching over 125 students.  The workshop educated young students on what engineering is and what earthquake engineers do, while providing real world examples. The presentation's emphasis was on earthquake resilience, and many students had great questions regarding earthquake engineering as well as earthquake resilience.  Students were also encouraged to understand the social science aspect of earthquake engineering and how it affects the community. 


After the presentation, students were asked to build an “earthquake resilient structure” made out of toothpicks and marshmallows.  The structure had to be at least two toothpicks high and would have to withstand shaking in a jelly tin.  The students were very engaged in this project and the encouragement to think like an engineer and create a good design was definitely evident in the final product. It was clear that the students had started to understand concepts such as a strong foundation, the use of triangles, and the use of bracing.


The high school presentation was similar, but instead of toothpick and marshmallow structures, students were asked to build a chair out of newspaper and tape that would hold the weight of a team member with their hands and feet off the ground for two seconds without collapsing.  The chair also had to be “earthquake resilient” by surviving shaking.

Students were very engaged in finding solutions to current problems regarding earthquake resilience, such as retrofitting and liquefaction.












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