Shaking It!

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In this experiment, learners design and build a model room in a shoebox and furnish it with tiny furniture. Then, learners put the room on a simple earthquake simulator to see what happens to the room during an "earthquake." Learners are encouraged to redesign their rooms to make them earthquake-resistant. The earthquake simulator is a piece of cardboard suspended by rubber bands from a copy paper box lid. The lesson plan includes basic information about types of earthquakes, different measurement scales, and ways to prepare for an earthquake.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model, Simulation


Materials List (per student)

  • Copy paper box and lid
  • Rubber bands
  • String
  • Single hole puncher
  • Brads
  • Optional: 11/2 ”-2” rubber bouncing balls
  • Optional: beads
  • Shoe boxes
  • Small jewelry boxes
  • Cardstock/manila folders/index cards
  • Scissors
  • Markers (to decorate)
  • Assorted small “recyclables” to make furniture and knick knacks–beads, pipe cleaners, marker tops, plastic film canisters, etc.


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Earthquakes
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Architectural Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
    • Technology
      • Construction
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Model Building


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 9053625