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Museum Workshop plan: "Geology - the strength of the soil"

  • December 2014
  • Education & learning
  • Topics in science
  • Material for workshops and exhibitions

Developed as part of the ENGINEER project (2011-2014)

This unit is designed for children aged 9-12. The aim of the activity is to devise a system to avoid the tilting of a building during an earthquake in a sandy soil. Participants investigate soil liquefaction, a phenomenon in which the strength and stiffness of a soil is reduced and which occurs in soils saturated with water. Using just wooden sticks, rubber bands and straws, they have to construct a model of building foundations that can resist earthquake shaking. At the end of the activity participants play with (dry) rice to discover that different particulate materials have different mechanical behaviours.

Versions in other languages and editable version are available here.

Public resource


  • engineering
  • Workshop
  • geology
  • earthquake
  • engineer



ENGINEER supported the widespread adoption in Europe of innovative methods of science teaching and the introduction of engineering in schools. In November 2014, Engineer won a Scientix Award for the category "STEM teaching materials addressed to teachers".