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Secondary students put their own quake-resistant models to the test


The Quake Centre has always thrilled to see collaboration and innovation in action, and both were brought to the fore by the next generation of aspiring engineers and creative thinkers, with the secondary school students QuakeCraft project.


QuakeCraft is a holiday programme set up for innovative young people, it allows secondary school students to design and build quake-resistant models, and then really put them to the test on a shake table at the University of Canterbury’s state-of-the-art Structural Engineering Laboratory (SEL).


Quake Centre and QuakeCore Outreach Coordinator Brandy Alger lead the project, and says the idea came about from a project called WikiHouse, which is a pop-up, open source style of housing in Christchurch. Brandy explains how the project evolved.


“We wanted to try to encourage secondary school students from all over Christchurch to come up with innovative solutions. We applied for a Curious Minds grant and got it and from there we set up a three-day school holiday programme around the idea.”


Day one of the programme was spent discussing the concept of sustainable housing, and the organisers talked with the thirty participating students about different types of houses that can combat different natural disasters, including flooding, earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides. On the second day the children were given the chance to get stuck in and build their designs at local fabrication studio Fabriko.



“We gave them set amounts of material for their buildings and some custom pieces to make their designs even better, as well as access to 3D Printers, laser cutters and computer-aided design.”


When the third day of the programme rolled around it was time to test the structures. Engineering judges were brought in to assess the models and the students watched with excitement as the models were put to the test on the lab’s shake tables.


While the judges did assess the resilience, design and overall innovation of the teams’ models and prizes were awarded in the form of an overall award, a judges award and an innovation award. However, the primary aim of the project was to get the students thinking creatively about innovative building solutions and it was a friendly competition.


“Basically, we’re hoping to encourage more engineers, but also how to find a solution - resilience, and understand all the work that goes into making seismically resilient buildings.” 


Brandy is particularly enthusiastic about the collaborative aspect of the project, and the way it allows students the opportunity to experience different tertiary providers.


“I think it’s a great project because it’s a collaboration between Ara Polytechnic, but also Fabrica - where the students can get hands on. So by hosting it at the University of Canterbury, the students get to see three different tertiary institutions and three different collaborators, which is a great experience for them.”  


With the success and positive reaction to the project, Brandy hopes that it might be something that can be expanded over time to involve schools from around the country.


“We’re hoping to roll this out to schools right across New Zealand, so that rural schools can have the opportunity to participate, and we’re currently applying for a grant for this.”

















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