Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Architecture School: Day 6

Demonstrating Compression

So today we deviated from the book's lesson and built upon what we either didn't cover or only vaguely covered yesterday.

I started by giving them some of their blocks and asking them to build a tall tower. Builder Boy has been particular about having a solid, strong foundation for years now, but I did convince him to make the top thinner to better demonstrate the point I was hoping to make. The top part did indeed start to sway a tiny bit, though it was a mostly stable structure due to Builder Boy's practice over the years.

They already started talking about gravity trying to pull it down before it was even built. But I got them to think about other forces that act upon buildings that architects and engineers need to take into account when designing and building a structure. (I am neither an architect nor an engineer, and this is a kindergarten level lesson, so I kept it basic, and to the best of my own understanding.) The main other forces we talked about besides gravity were weather based: wind pushing from the side and precipitation adding pressure on the top.

I told them about how the wind near the base of a building is not bad, but the higher the building, and the further away from the foundation, the stronger the wind and the higher the force of the wind. We talked about skyscrapers and how some of the really tall ones sway on the higher floors.

We also talked about rain and snow fall. I asked them what would happen to rain on a flat roof verse the pointed roofs that are all around us.

Then we talked about the book's definition of "tension" (the    state    or    condition    of    being    pulled    or    stretched) and "compression" (the    state    of    being    pushed    together    or    squeezed        together,    which    results    in    a    decrease    in    volume.) We tried the demonstrations shown in the book, though Early Bird did not care for the tension demonstration when he tired it with Builder Boy. (Both people's feet together, holding hands and leaning back.) We talked about how the opposing forces or pressures in each demonstration, carefully balanced, canceled each other out and gave a type of support.

Demonstrating Cantilever
We also talked about "cantilevers" (a    large    bracket    or    block    projecting    from    a    wall    and        supported    on    one    end    only;    often    supports    a    balcony    or    extended    part    of    a    building) and their inherent weakness; that the further away from the supporting side, the weaker the support is. Builder Boy noticed that our roof stuck out a very small amount on the back side of the house with a cantilever look. We then went to the other side of the house to where the porch roof also stuck out from the main part of the house, but because it stuck out so far it required support columns.

Then we once again attempted the second project in 123 I Can Build!. We talked about the wood sticks bending when they were wet, and we trimmed them all down to an even smaller size. I thought I had purchased clay at the store last time I was there. But I was distracted by having three small, busy, noisy children, and mistook playdough packaged differently as clay. Which I did not realize until I had opened it up, started rolling it, and realized the texture was all wrong.

So we're going to try to see if it does better dried and harder. If it still doesn't work, I'll go back to the store; this time alone.

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