Author: Semih ESENDEMİR

Within the scope of the “STEM Discovery Campaign 2020” organized by Scientix in European countries, I, as a science teacher at Emine Emir Şahbaz Science and Art Center, organized an online STEM activity “Don’t Fear Be Aware” with my students being 9 to 12 years old between 20 – 26 of April, 2020.

My aim in organizing this activity was to develop scientific and engineering process skills by directing my students to research, questioning, and design with the online STEM event that I organized during these difficult times when I am separated from my students. To achieve this goal, I dealt with the earthquake, one of the most significant natural disasters that concerns our country. Due to its geographical position, Turkey is a country located in the world’s most important earthquake zones. Compared with countries located in earthquake zones, Turkey takes place in the front row in terms of life and property losses caused by the earthquake. I believe that it is necessary to raise awareness about earthquakes at a young age to change this situation. I wanted to raise this awareness with this STEM activity where my young students could grasp the earthquake dynamics, learn how to measure the earthquake, and discover how to design earthquake-resistant buildings.

I was in close cooperation with my students and their families in the implementation of the event. I tried to manage the process by organizing online meetings with my students and sharing the instructions of the activities. Starting the event with pictures and videos about the earthquake, I tried to draw attention to the subject of our event. Showing pictures and videos, I emphasized that the earth’s crust covers the liquid part of the earth (magma), and it is not a single piece, but consists of pieces of crust called sheet (or plate) that are separated by fractures. I informed my students that the plates are constantly moving on the liquid part of the ground (which is about a few mm or several cms per year) and that destructive earthquakes occur along the lines of these moving plates. After understanding the reasons for the earthquake, I made it possible for my students to explain the concepts of the earthquake’s centre, the epicenter, the magnitude and severity of the earthquake, depending on whether the houses designed by cube candies were demolished with a simple earthquake simulation.

Figure 1: Houses made of sugar cubes

After the magnitude of the earthquake was tested, we made a simple seismograph to understand how to measure the magnitude of the earthquake. By doing seismograph, I enabled my students to learn about the working principle of the seismograph and the Richter scale, which is the measure of earthquake magnitude.

Figure 2: Make a seismograph
Figure 3: A sample earthquake magnitude measurement

As I mentioned above, earthquakes can cause massive destruction and casualties, but earthquake-resistant buildings can survive and keep people safe. At this stage, I focused on earthquake-resistant building designs to discover how technology and engineering could save lives. I challenged my students to observe how they react to the vibrations of the houses they designed on the ground and to think about how they could make an earthquake-resistant building with the mathematical data they obtained using the Science Journal application.

Figure 4: Using the Science Journal application
Figure 5: An exemplary design

It is necessary to take measures against earthquake hazards not only in building construction but also for ourselves. To learn and discover the precautions to be taken in a fun way, I played the game “Fixing things”. I ended up researching about civil engineering, which made our buildings more earthquake-resistant, and material engineering that helped design new, stronger, or lighter materials that were used in the construction of buildings. In this way, I wanted to show career opportunities associated with our event. At the end of the event, I applied the game “Hangman”, which I designed using the BookWidgets application, and an overall assessment of 10 questions in the Quizizz application. I had the opportunity to make a process-based assessment by designing an online worksheet to evaluate the knowledge, research results, and products obtained by my students in the process.

Figure 6: Play a hangman

The event enabled my students to think like a seismologist who questioned, investigated the earthquake in detail, and thought like an engineer who designed and produced. Using all stages of STEM education, we discovered the importance of earthquake in a scientific sense and the earthquake protection ways. We used mathematics practically with the data in the Science Journal. We developed engineering skills with earthquake-resistant building designs. In these times spent at home, I can say that creating so many products with fun and simple materials has increased my students’ interest in science, engineering, and technology.
Video: Our project video

Click here for “Don’t fear be aware” learning scenario.

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About semihesendemir

Semih ESENDEMİR, a science teacher, was born in 1986 in Eskişehir. He graduated from Eskişehir Osmangazi University, Science and Technology Education Department As a result of the training and projects he developed, ESENDEMİR has gained the chance to represent his country in two important European projects. The information about these projects is as follows: • Represented his country as the only Turkish teacher who succeeded in participating in the International Teacher Program (ITW), organized by CERN (European Nuclear Research Center) between 4-17 August 2019. After a two-week training, he returned to his country as CERN Science Ambassador. • Esendemir was chosen delegates to Turkey with his project "Ionic Bonding Puzzle" at the Science on Stage Festival organized by Turkey in the 3rd National Science Festival and also in Portugal between 31 October 2019 - 03 November 2019, he subsequently represented his country at the Science on Stage Europe Science Festival and Contest. In recent years, he has participated in Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) and Ministry of National Education (MEB) supported teacher training and continues his personal and professional development. In addition, as a Microsoft Certified Educator (MCE), he volunteers coding training in the Habitat association.