Carolina® Earthquakes Individual Kit


This kit was built for use with the Microsoft® Hacking STEM Project, Using Computational Thinking to Understand Earthquakes.


In this lesson, core earth science ideas are integrated with important 21st-century technical skills. Emphasis is placed on combining science, engineering, and technology to gather and visualize earthquake data critical for making informed decisions about human safety. Students model how engineers incorporate tuned mass dampers in skyscraper design to make them resistant to earthquake damage.


Activity Requirements
This activity requires project instructions, technical requirements, and lesson plans from the Microsoft® Hacking STEM website, including:


Build and Learn
Students begin this set of activities by building a transverse wave machine to visualize “S” and “P” waves. Students then build seismographs to measure and visualize seismic waves. In the final activity, students model how engineers use technology in skyscraper design to make them resistant to earthquake damage. They construct a model skyscraper equipped with a tuned mass damper, similar to the one installed in the Taipei 101 Tower.


Connect Your Tools
Seismographs connect to a microcontroller, programmed to measure the magnitude of wave energy passing through them. This allows for visualization in a customized Excel® workbook. Students observe, record, test, and analyze data, drawing conclusions about what they’ve observed. A microcontroller is added to the model skyscraper to study the impact of the earthquake, both with and without the tuned mass damper. Throughout this activity, students see how scientists and engineers, from different fields of study, work together to achieve a common goal.


Visualize the Data
Have this lesson come to life by using the custom Excel® workbook to visualize and analyze live data from student-built instruments. The customized Excel® worksheet visualizes pendulum movement and building sway, while allowing for observation and recording of live data. Recorded data can be saved into the trial data section for comparison and analysis.


Individual kit includes materials for one student station and takes 2 to 3 weeks of classroom time.


The project requires materials from the Carolina® Arduino® Microcontroller Kit (item #770050) or the Carolina® micro:bit Microcontroller Kit (item #770055) and the Carolina Tool Kit (item #770060). Please check the “What’s Included” tab for details.


Project instructions, technical requirements, and lesson plans are found at the Microsoft® Hacking STEM Projects website.


Microsoft® Hacking STEM Projects are a collection of inquiry-driven, standards-aligned lesson plans that integrate visualizing data into existing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum. These hands-on activities engage students in computational and design thinking and situate them in solving real-world problems.

  • What’s included?

    • 1 Cardboard, 8-1/2 x 11″
    • 1 Earthquake Slider Board
    • 5 Wooden Dowel, 4-3/4 mm diam x 92 cm L
    • 1 C-Clamp, 3″
    • 1 Gum Drop, 8-oz Bag
    • 2 Straw
    • 1 Rubber Band, Large
    • 3 Paper Plate
    • 1 Rubber Grommet, 4 mm diam
    • 1 Insulating Ring Terminal, 12-10 awg
    • 1 Bolt, 1/4 x 1″
    • 9 Male-to-Male Jumper Wires
    • 1 Breadboard
    • 1 Push Pins
    • 1 String, 15 cm
    • 50 Washers, #10
    • 1 Wing Nut, 1/4″, 20 tpi
    • 1 Ribbon, 91 cm
    • 20 Wooden Skewer, 10″
    • 1 Emery Board
    • 1 Plastic Cup
    • 1 Wooden Spool
    • 1 Disc Magnet
    • 1 Magnet Wire, 32 awg, 360 cm
    • 2 Alligator Clips, Pin Ended
    • 1 Triple-Axis Accelerometer with 8-Pin Header, Pre-Soldered


    Needed But Not Included:

    • 1 Scissors
    • 1 Hot Glue Gun
    • 1 Ruler
    • 1 Utility Knife
    • 1 Marker and Pencil
    • 1 Arduino® Uno or micro:bit Microcontroller
    • 1 USB Cable Type A to Type B or Type A to Micro
    • 1 Breadboard

Additional information

Weight 1.5 kg
Dimensions 27 × 102 × 35 cm


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