Teacher's Guide for ODYSSEYTM Super Structures: Engineering the Future
Think Tank (Discussion Starters to Use Before Reading the Magazine):
Article / Page
"Why They Fell: Science, Engineering, & the World Trade Center Collapse," pg. 6
"Unsung Heroes: Structural Engineers Respond to WTC," pg. 12
- Once two planes crashed into the two World Trade Center towers, collapse was inevitable. The Center's "steel tube" design and "double support" construction saved thousands of lives. Sidebars discuss the physics of collapse and the uncertain future of skyscrapers.
- Vocabulary, Cause and Effect
"From the Ground Up" pg. 14
- After the WTC collapsed, structural engineers quickly joined firefighters and police to assess damage to other buildings and to the underground wall holding back the Hudson River. Their efforts prevented added loss of life and property.
- Cause and Effect, Problem Solving
"Shake, Rattle, and Roll," pg. 16
- Good structural design begins with a strong foundation. Geotechnical engineers examine the soil and rock layers to make sure any structure built on them will prove stable, strong, and safe.
- Application, Cause and Effect
"Big Dig: Big Ideas & Big Engineering," pg. 20
- While some scientists work to make large structures stronger, others work to make them smarter. Mass dampers counteract the force of earthquakes and storms. Sidebars investigate the harmonics of moving structures, from swaying buildings to washing machines.
- Analysis and Synthesis, Application
"Building the Big Bridge," pg. 26
- The largest, most complex, and costliest tunneling project ever attempted keeps engineers and environmental preservationists busy in Boston, Massachusetts. Three different kinds of tunnels challenge the limits of engineering know-how in this "life-size laboratory." A sidebar explains why actual costs are triple the original estimate for the project
- Process Analysis, Deductive Reasoning
"Supersize Stadium Domes: Whopping Big Toppers," pg. 28
- Not all of Boston's highway rebuilding is taking place underground. The Big Dig Bridge offers a uniquely modern variation on one of the oldest of bridge styles. Unlike the Big Dig, however, the bridge is already completed.
- Vocabulary, Cause and Effect
"In the Tunnels" (Brain Strain), pg. 31
- Supersize domes made of fiberglass fabric over a steel frame disperse weight and maintain their shape, but they are not the only stable designs. The sole limit to the size of a dome seems to be how big people want it to be. A sidebar profiles a few modern superdomes that dwarf the ancient masonry dome of the Pantheon.
- Cause and Effect, Applications
"Built on Thin Air," pg. 32
- With a series of choices and one-way paths ahead of her, will Mandy be able to join her friends for a movie? Figure out her chances for success with this probability puzzle.
- Following Directions, Mathematical Reasoning
"Floating Concrete?" pg. 35
- Pneumatic architecture provides lightweight, cost-effective support for large structures. Demonstrate its strength by constructing three air-pressure-supported structures.
- Applications, Following Directions
"Cities of the Future," pg. 38
- Who can build the best concrete canoe? Follow the University of Alabama at Huntsville team as they construct the winning entry in the 2001 concrete canoe competition, sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
- Applications, Inductive Reasoning
"What's Up? and Planet Watch," pg. 40
- Will tomorrow's city-dwellers live in giant pyramids or in massive underground communities? Peek at futuristic designs already on the drawing board and learn more from futurist Michael G. Zey.
- Deductive Reasoning, Problem Solving
"You Can Do Astronomy: Observing the Moon's Features" (Activity), pg. 42
- In September, look for the Great Square of Pegasus. Celebrate the month's astronomical holiday, the autumnal equinox.
- Observation, Following Directions
- Constructing a lunar map takes a month, but the results are worth the effort. Follow these directions, get to know our nearest neighbor in space, and share your observations with ODYSSEYTM.
- Observation and Recording, Following Directions
Classroom "Syzygy": Talk, Connect, Assess
- What is the largest human-made structure you have ever been in or on? Was it a building, a bridge, a stadium, or something else? How did you feel when you were in or on something so massive? Were you excited or anxious? Why do supersize things make us feel that way?
- As cities become larger and available ground space becomes more expensive, how will architects and engineers adapt? How can we build more homes and commercial space without using up more land? Brainstorm a list of possibilities. Make drawings of promising ideas.
Pg. 6 - "Why They Fell: Science, Engineering, & and World Trade Center Collapse"
Far Out!: Moving Beyond the Magazine
pg. 38 - "Cities of the Future"
- Talk It Over:
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of skyscrapers? List pros and cons under such headings as "Usefulness," "Beauty," "Psychology," and "Safety."
- What lessons does the WTC collapse teach? In what ways did the design and structure of the towers help save lives? How can those successes be improved upon in the future? How will this tragedy affect the next generation of skyscrapers?
- Visual Arts / Graphics: Draw a series of diagrams showing internal views of the WTC towers between the time of impact and the time of collapse. Label the diagrams to show the forces and events that brought the towers down.
- Language Arts: Write a letter to the mayor of New York City. Detail your plan for rebuilding the WTC site. Keep in mind that land in Manhattan is valuable, so your plan will have to offer the city some return on its investment. (Consider expanding your plan and entering ODYSSEYTM's contest on pg. 9.)
- Mathematics: Reread the sidebar "Gravity Takes an Astonishing Toll" on pg. 10. Explain how a force of 680 billion joules collapsed the towers, yet a similar force in the 2001 earthquake merely shook them.
- Student Assessment:
- In a brief essay, explain "steel tube" design and "double support." Tell how these principles helped save lives during the WTC attack.
- Prepare a persuasive speech that either supports or refutes this premise: The WTC was an engineering success. Use physics, history, architecture, engineering principles, and psychology to strengthen your argument. Consider organizing and holding a formal debate on the topic.
- Talk It Over:
- Visionary cities of the future sound exciting, but how will they affect ecosystems? In what ways might future designs be good for the local or the global environment? In what ways might they be harmful?
- Many of the designs mentioned in the article are planned for Japan. For what reasons might Japan be at the forefront in building supercities? What special problems must be considered when planning supersize structures in Japan?
- Graphic Design: Reread the paragraph that describes "Sky City 1000." From this description, draw what you think the city might look like. Label your drawing with as much detail as you can.
- History: Research cities of the future in science fiction or futurist predictions written before 1950. What imaginings or predictions have come true or seem likely for the near future? Which visions of the future didn't (or won't, in your opinion) make it? Present your ideas in a poster and an oral report.
- Creative Writing: Imagine that you are growing up in an underground city of the future. Write a letter to a friend who lives in a tower-city telling about your daily activities.
- Student Assessment:
- Early in the article, the author mentions "organic design." From information you have gathered from the article, write a paragraph defining this concept. Clarify your definition with one or two examples from the article or from your own experience.
- Imagine that you are an architect who has been commissioned to design a fantastic city for the future. Write a three-paragraph proposal describing your city and telling how it would benefit people, while protecting the natural environment.
The Seven Wonders of the World
Small-Group Collaborative Project: As a class, brainstorm ideas for the future's most impressive human-made structures. From this list, choose "The Seven Wonders of the Future World." Organize the class into seven teams. Assign each group a "Wonder" to research and plan. Ask groups to present their ideas in a skit, poster, and written report.
Began with a plan and a dream.
Paired Competition: Organize pairs of students. Give each pair either a box of toothpicks or a deck of playing cards. Challenge teams to construct a tower that is both attractive and strong, made only from the cards or toothpicks - plus glue, tape, and modeling clay. Give prizes in categories such as the tallest, sturdiest, and best-looking.
Imagine what heights we can reach
Whole-Class Project: Research the world's 10 tallest buildings. Find pictures when possible. Record the height and the year each structure was completed. Agree on a scale to be used for all buildings (for example, 10 meters = 1 cm). Construct a time line either in the classroom or in a school display area. Using black construction paper, cut out a "shadow" for each building, measured to scale. Place the shadows on the time line by the year of completion. Label the names of the buildings and show their locations on a world map.
With an expert on our team.
Community Connection: Invite an architect to class to talk about his or her daily life at work. Ask your guest speaker to explain the process of planning and designing a building. If money and time were no object, what structure would your speaker like to design? If your class is working on the Paired Competition above, ask the architect for advice on how to improve your towers.