The rain poured, and the wind blew, pulling houses from their foundation. What naturally takes place during a hurricane, occurred during a hurricane simulation in one Eastchester Middle School classroom.
The sixth-grade STEM students completed their Hurricane House unit with Tom Boissonnault and John Blaser this week.
"They find out about hurricanes, how they form and how they affect houses," said Blaser. "Then they apply what they have learned and build. The most valuable part of the project is afterward when the students analyze their construction method, whether it worked and what they would do differently next time."
The students worked in groups and revised their projects as needed throughout the process. They used paper, popsicle sticks, cotton balls and glue.
"It was cool to see what some houses can withstand and what some can't. We chose a flat roof, and we made pillars to support the wall so that the wind wouldn't smash the house," said student Anna Murray.
The houses were unique. For the first time, some teams built two-story homes, one structure had working lights, another looked like a barn, and still others were hexagon-shaped.
"They learn about scale and aerodynamics. We teach them about design methods and construction methods, and then we turn them loose," said Boissonnault.
The students placed all the houses together on a table to create neighborhoods and communities.
Then they suited up in ponchos and goggles and sprayed water bottles. The middle schoolers moved around the table to create a vortex as Boissonnault used a leaf blower to simulate the 125 – 150 mph winds of a hurricane.
As the water drenched the structures, pieces of roofs started to detach, and not every home survived.
One group cheered
proudly when their house was the last one standing. Hugo Tsune
explained the strengths of the design. "We put extra amounts of glue, and
I think that it made the house stronger. For the roof, we made it flat, and I
think that helped a little."