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An inquiry oriented hands-on project on

Earthquake and Earthquake

resistant house design

About Chirag & Chirag School

Chirag is a rural development organization based in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand in India. Since 1986, Chirag has
worked closely with communities to improve their quality of life.
Located in the picturesque Kumaon Hills, the Chirag School was started in 2006, under the initiative of Kanai Lall, the
founder of Chirag. The main goal was to demonstrate that quality education for rural children can be provided at an
affordable cost. The school envisions itself as a model on which educational endeavors in the region can be based.

About Teach For India

Teach For India (TFI) is an Indian non-profit organization, which is a part of the Teach For All global movement.
Through its Fellowship program, TFI recruits qualified Indian college graduates and working professionals to serve as
full-time teachers in low-income schools for two years. Fellows work to bridge the educational gaps that their students
face, in the hopes of putting their students on a fundamentally different life path. Through the 'Teaching as
Leadership' framework, Teach For India staff provides training and support to Fellows so that they can employ
innovative teaching strategies to maximize their effectiveness in the classroom. After two years of the Fellowship, the
Fellows become a part of an alumni movement. The aim of this movement is for the alumni to work from inside and
outside the educational system to affect the long-term changes necessary to realize educational opportunity for all.

Overview of the project

It is not the earthquake that takes lives it is the house

The vision of this inquiry oriented hands-on project is for the children to have awareness about earthquake, its causes
and effects and to build a basic understanding, how houses are built and how a better house design can prevent the
after effects of an earthquake.

Children build on their basic awareness about earthquake and the tragedy in Nepal, find out more about the tragedy
by reading and collecting information, from newspapers and from the people around them.
Once children gain awareness and understanding of how big of a calamity an earthquake could be, they try to
understand its cause by building a working model of an earthquake. They also study the seismicity of Uttarakhand,
through tectonic plate structures and the possibilities for some of its districts to encounter an earthquake in future.
Children engage in discussions to understand, how precautionary steps of improved housing schemes could be taken,
to avoid the severe effects of an earthquake and put their design skills to test, by actually designing their own housing
structure and putting it to test. Through this process, children realize the basic faults in their designs and in the
prevalent construction schemes.
Children then learn about the basics of shapes & structures and learn from people around them, working in this space,
to improve their initial designs. After acquiring all the knowledge, it is imperative to apply ones learning to test. It is
then children work in groups, to improve their house designs and create a robust and earthquake resistant housing
structure on the ground.

What happened in Nepal?

Children share with others what they already know about earthquakes, what they think happens when earthquakes
occur; share their thoughts on why earthquakes occur.
To build more concrete understanding of the after effects of an earthquake, children find more about the recent
earthquake in Nepal through videos and through newspaper cuttings. Finally they share their findings with others; one
group presented their learning about Nepal and the earthquake in the form of a small poem.

Children share with the group their prior knowledge about

earthquakes and the information they have about the
tragedy that occurred in Nepal

Children watch videos on earthquakes in Nepal

After watching the videos on Nepals earthquake children try finding more about the tragedy and its effects through
newspaper cuttings.

Children choose a newspaper clipping as per their interest

Vishal with his newspaper cutting

Kamal, Rupal & Rachna write things that they would want
to tell others about Nepals earthquake

Jai, Himanshu and Dimple

Why do earthquakes occur?

Earthquake is a natural phenomenon and the objective is for the children to observe, understand, discuss,
create and be able to tell others how and why an earthquake might occur. Initially children model tectonic
plates on a map to understand how plates under the Earth surface push against each other and cause
earthquake. Later they realize the causes and effects of an earthquake more closely by observing and then
creating an earthquake through a working model.

Jai and Himanshu try and locating plates on a world map

Jai trying to model how two plates under the Earth

surface push each other

A model of earthquake for children to observe and relate

what all damage an earthquake could cause in the hills

Children observing, questioning the causes of an

earthquake by movement of tectonic plates

Children creating their own model

Children working in two groups to create two models

Dirty hands, but

happy faces

The joy of working as a team

Birthday girl Rupal

The final model after which children were confidently

talking about how movement of plates causes
earthquake and causes cracks on roads

How safe is Uttarakhand from an earthquake?

For children to realize that Uttarakhand is under threat due to constant pressing of the Indian and Eurasian
plates. Children then think and share about the effects an earthquake might have in the hills and the
precautions people should take (a better housing structure) to be prepared for any natural calamity.

Aman analyzing Indian and Eurasian plates

Rupal identifying zone 5 & zone 4 districts

In Uttarakhand

Children analyze the impact of constant pressing of Indian

and Eurasian plates on Nepal and the threat it bears to Uttarakhand
due to its proximity to the fault line

How would you design your earthquake

resistant house?
Children asked their families how their own houses are made and tried making model houses with some abstract
knowledge of foundation, pillars and beams. Through this, children realized the shortcomings of the housing structure,
where bricks are simply put on bricks to make a house and the importance of having a strong foundation by testing
their houses on a shake table

Children put their ideas test using blocks to replicate simple brick-on-brick construction

Some creative designs

Bringing their house to test on shake table

Presenting their idea and design before testing for earthquake resistance on the shake table

Improving designs using the knowledge of

foundation and pillars
Children used jodo-straws to improve their initial designs by moving from brick-on-brick construction to foundation
and pillars. Children tested their design, for earthquake resistance on a shake table and realized the structures were
still not very stable. The stability of triangular structure was then introduced to the group and children created
improved design using triangular beam structure and tested it for better stability and resistance in case of an

Further improving designs using triangular

Children through a demonstration ( observe and compare how triangular beams add
more stability to a structure and thus improved their designs

Great minds at work

Vishal and his earthquake resistant hut

Jai and Amans designs. As per them these roofs add more
stability and also takes care of the snow in winters

Taking learning to the ground

After learning theories about designs and testing them, children take their learning to the ground. They visit an
earthquake resistant house which is actually being designed keeping in mind the construction schemes they have
learnt in class. After the visit, children put their learning to test by actually building a house using sticks, stones, mud
etc. Children were divided into two group, they collected resources from the campus and with little assistance, put
their ideas to form by working with real world materials and making earthquake resistant model houses

Children visit an earthquake resistant building to see the triangular beam structure in use

Structure in the making

Poonam Di and Thakur Da working and assisting children on their model houses

Laying foundation

Mehek rolling up her sleeves

Aman and Himashu come to school early so they could get more time to work

Raju da helping children to make roof

The Team!!

Earthquake resistant house built by Grade 4 (Padam) children

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