The Squeeze Box

Source Institutions

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Activity link broken? See if it's at the internet archive
In this geology activity learners build a "squeeze box," which allows them to compress layers of sediment. This is a great way to investigate folding and faulting in the Earth. The squeeze box contraption can also be made ahead of time when used for demonstrations.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
1 to 2 hours

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • A 2x4 about 1 yard long
  • 3/4 in Wooden Dowel or 3/4 in PVC pipe
  • 2 pieces of clear plastic sheet 1/4 in thick or less (roughly 13 in x 6.5 in)
  • 14 to 22 3/4 in wood screws with washers
  • 6 wood screws at least 2.5 in long
  • A bucket of sand
  • A 5 lbs. bag of flour or salt or any other granular material that is not the same color as the sand
  • Saw
  • Drill


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Earthquakes
      • Volcanoes and Plate Tectonics
    • Earth Structure
      • Rocks and Minerals
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Model Building
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Muller, Eric


  • All rights reserved, Exploratorium, 2000