Week 5

Session 2

Guiding Question

  • How can we detect life on Mars using a robot?


  • What can we do to resist an earthquake?

  • What are the considerations for designing a bridge strong enough to resist earthquakes?


  • An oral presentation, with a poster for visual display, on strategies for resisting earthquakes.

CT Components

Simulation & Modeling

  • Students will try and understand how to resist earthquakes through some simulation activities

Data Collection

  • Students will gather information on how to resist earthquakes


  • Students will keep a journal and make a presentation to the class

Entry Event

5-10 minutes

Teacher reviews key concepts from the previous lesson by asking, “Do you recall, what causes an earthquake?” PAUSEs to allow students to answer. Proceeds, “We talked about ways that buildings resist an earthquake. Let’s take a look at how this is done for bridges.”

A teacher directs students to watch about a video (3:31) titled “Quake-Proof Bridge” by National Geographic.

Teacher asks students if there are any bridges they can recall seeing in Boise? Teacher asks, “Do these bridges look like the one in the video? Do you think these bridges could withstand an earthquake?”

What considerations are needed to build a bridge for the Boise River strong enough to resist earthquakes?

Small-group Hands-on Scientific Inquiry (40 minutes)

Students in a group of three research different types of bridges and locations on the Boise River to answer the two sub questions above; the students will decide what type of bridge to consider and vote or suggest different bridge types and locations; one person needs to be in charge of recording the decisions of the class (the teacher needs to discuss the individual roles within the group and the rotation of roles in this process: e.g. recorder, internet researcher, simulation participants, time-keeper, and presenter); students present their decision to the teacher, with one person leading the discussion - why did they choose the bridge type?

Student Presentations

20 minutes (Two 10 minute sessions)

Students' presentations need to closely related to the sub questions and learning outcomes.

Suggested approach: Half of the students hang their posters up, and present their research to the remaining students. The poster items will reflect on earthquakes and their causes. After 10 minutes, the two groups of students switch roles with the original presenters who become the audience and the other half of the students who hung up their posters for their presentations. Students can also use Google slides, however the teacher needs to remind students of the limited time available to work on their poster/slides.

End of Session Reflection and Debriefing

5-10 minutes

Teacher briefly explains the computational thinking (CT) skill embedded in the Problem Solving Process Diagram. Using the problem solving process diagram, the teacher will ask students to identify what kind of problem solving skills/process/computational thinking they used in this session and explain how they used it. The following are some sample questions that can guide the debrief.

  • What did I learn today?

  • What problem solving skills/processes or CT components in this diagram did I use today?

  • How did I use the problem solving skills/processes/CT components?