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Overview of Project 4: How Can We Make Sand Stand Tall?

Subject Content

Engineering, Science, Math, Computer Science, Technology

Learning Objectives

Students will explore and investigate how sand can be made strong enough to uphold the weight of a building.


Final Products

A reinforced soil wall that can stand tall without deflection, group presentation on their experience and newfound knowledge

Driving Question: How Can We Make Sand Stand Tall?

 Sample Sub-Questions

  1. What are the physical properties of sand?
  2. How can we tell the differences between sand types?
  3. What is reinforced?
  4. What is reinforcement sand?
  5. How does sand support buildings?
  6. Where should we place the reinforcement? Top, bottom, or all over?
  7. What are the positive and negative aspects of using plastic sticks, cloth, wire mesh, paper as reinforcement materials?
  8. What materials and placement work best for reinforcing sand?





Activities

  1. Explain soil reinforcement
  2. Identify different types of sand and observe the sizes and shapes of the soils
  3. Explore how density and friction relate to sand strength
  4. Test how the number of layers and the amount of reinforcement in each layer affect the strength of sand
  5. Test how different reinforcement materials affect the strength of sand
  6. Test the best placement for reinforcement
  7. Test the different combination of materials to reinforce sand
  8. Design a reinforced wall that can stand tall without deflection

Assessment

  1. Formative (for revision purpose): Weekly evaluation of the students on their understanding of the activities completed during the week - both written and oral.
  2. Summative: Assessment/evaluation on students learning at the end of the 8 weeks project, for example the Reinforced Soil Wall and Presentations.

Tools & Resources

Project website, other resources specified in the lesson plans.

Standards Aligned

  1. Science: National Science Education Standards (NSES, 1996)
  2. Engineering: NEXT Generation Science Standards (NGSS, 2013)
  3. Information and Communication Technology: Idaho Content Standards (ICS, 2007)
  4. Math: Common Core State Standard (CCSS, 2010)
  5. 21st Century Skills: Common Core State Standard (CCSS, 2010)

Weekly Activities Outline


Week 1 Activities

Overall Guiding Question:  How can we make sand stand tall?

Sessions

Sub-questions

Activities

Resources

Outcomes

Session 1

1. What are the characteristics of sand?


2. What is reinforced sand?

- Team-building activity


- Introduction of the Problem Solving Process


- Demo of reinforced sand


- Whole group discussion

- Problem Solving Process


- Printable directions

- Describe the characteristics of sand.


- Explain what sand reinforcement is.



Session 2

1. What is reinforcement?


2. What is soil reinforcement?


3. What is the purpose of soil reinforcement?

- Watch video on soil reinforcement


- Hands-on activity


- Whole group discussion

- Problem Solving Process


- Video on soil reinforcement

- Explain what soil reinforcement is


Week 2 Activities

Overall Guiding Question:  How can we make sand stand tall?

Sessions

Sub-questions

Activities

Resources

Outcomes

Session 1

1. What are the characteristics of sand?


2. What is reinforced sand?

- Team-building activity


- Introduction of the Problem Solving Process


- Demo of reinforced sand


- Whole group discussion

- Problem Solving Process


- Types of Soil Worksheet


- Sifting Soils Worksheet

- Identify different types of soils based on engineering classification: gravel, sand, silt and clay

- Identify differences in terms of their sizes and shapes (round versus angular)

Session 2

1. What is reinforcement?


2. What is soil reinforcement?


3. What is the purpose of soil reinforcement?

- Watch video on soil reinforcement


- Hands-on activity


- Whole group discussion

- Problem Solving Process


- Shape of Sand Particles Worksheet

- Explain what soil reinforcement is


Week 3 Activities

Overall Guiding Question:  How can we make sand stand tall?

Sessions

Sub-questions

Activities

Resources

Outcomes

Session 1

1. What is density? Mass? Volume? How are they related?


2. Why should we make sand dense? How can we make sand denser?


3. What is sand compaction and sand densification?

- Watch video on “Evaluate: Mass, Volume, and Density”


- Learner Hands-on Activity


- Whole group discussion

- Problem Solving Process


- Evaluate: Mass, Volume, and Density Video


- Relative Density of Soil Worksheet

- Explain the terms “sand compaction” and “sand densification” in their own terms.

- Explain that density of sand is defined as mass of the sand per volume of the sand.


- Explain that patting the sand in a container will make the sand denser.


- Calculate the sand density.

Session 2

How does sand support buildings?

- Watch video on friction


- Hands-on activity


- Whole group discussion

- Problem Solving Process


- Video on friction


- Sand in a Jar Worksheet


- Sandpaper Boards Worksheet

- Learners will explain that the particle interaction (friction and density) makes the sand strong.


Week 4 Activities

Overall Guiding Question:  How can we make sand stand tall?

Sessions

Sub-questions

Activities

Resources

Outcomes

Session 1

How do we make sand strong (reinforced sand)?

- Watch video on “The Reinforced Earth Company”


- Small-group hands-on Activity


- Whole group discussion

- Problem Solving Process


- Layers of Reinforcement Worksheet


- Video on “The Reinforced Earth Company”

- Students test how the number of layers and the amount of reinforcement in each layer affect the strength of sand.

Session 2

1. What are the common types of reinforcements available for soil (as done in the field)?

2. What reinforcement materials give the sand most strength?

- Watch video on “The Reinforced Earth Company”


- Watch video on “how important this reinforcement is”


- Hands-on Activity


- Whole group discussion

- Problem Solving Process


- Layers of Different Reinforcement Worksheet


- Video on “The Reinforced Earth Company”


- Video on “how important this reinforcement is”

- Students will test different reinforcement materials and explain how different materials strengthen the sand.

Week 5 Activities

Overall Guiding Question:  How can we make sand stand tall?

Sessions

Sub-questions

Activities

Resources

Outcomes

Session 1

Where should we place the reinforcement? Top, bottom, or all over?

- Hands-on activity


- Whole group discussion

- Problem Solving Process


- The Placement of Reinforcement with Wire Mesh Worksheet

- Describe and test the best placement for reinforcement.

Session 2

Where should we place the reinforcement? Top, bottom, or all over?

- Hands-on Activity


- Whole group discussion

- Problem Solving Process


- The Placement of two Layers of Reinforcement with Wire Mesh Worksheet

- Describe and test the best placement of the reinforcement materials. Create a model to test theory.

Week 6 Activities

Overall Guiding Question:  How can we make sand stand tall?

Sessions

Sub-questions

Activities

Resources

Outcomes

Session 1

What are the positive and negative aspects of using plastic sticks as reinforcement materials?

- Student Group Research


- Student Experiments

- Problem Solving Process


- Plastic Sticks Worksheet

- Learners will test how to best use plastic sticks in reinforcing soil.

Session 2


What are the positive and negative aspects of using cloth as reinforcement materials?


- Student Group Research


- Student Experiments    


- Problem Solving Process

- Cloth Worksheet

- Learners will test how to best use plastic sticks in reinforcing soil.


Week 7 Activities

Overall Guiding Question:  How can we make sand stand tall?

Sessions

Sub-questions

Activities

Resources

Outcomes

Session 1

What are the positive and negative aspects of using plastic sticks as reinforcement materials?

- Student Group Research


- Student Experiments

- Problem Solving Process


- Wire Mesh Worksheet

- Learners will test how to best use plastic sticks in reinforcing soil.

Session 2

What are the positive and negative aspects of using cloth as reinforcement materials?

- Student Group Research


- Student Experiments    

- Problem Solving Process


- Paper Worksheet

- Learners will test how to best use cloth in reinforcing soil.


Week 8 Activities

Overall Guiding Question:  How can we make sand stand tall?

Sessions

Sub-questions

Activities

Resources

Outcomes

Session 1

What are the positive and negative aspects of mixing materials to reinforce soil?

- Student Group Research


- Student Experiments    

- Problem Solving Process-  


- Mixed Materials Worksheet


- Competition Planning Worksheet

- Learners will test how mixing materials can help in reinforcing soil.

Session 2

What materials and placement work best for reinforcing soil?

- Entry Event


- Cost Analysis Presentations and Soil Testing

- Problem Solving Process


- Competition Worksheet

- Learners will apply and observe which materials and placement work best for reinforcing soil.


This project is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Grant Number 1640228. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Please contact Dr. Dazhi Yang at dazhiyang@boisestate.edu if you have questions.

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