Buildings

Triangles: Testing the Strength of a Gumdrop Dome

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In this video segment adapted from ZOOM, cast members construct simple structures based on the light-but-strong design of the geodesic dome using gumdrops and toothpicks. These gumdrop domes help demonstrate that some shapes, like triangles, are inherently strong while others, like squares, are comparatively weak.

Career Connections | Structural Engineer

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Follow a structural engineer through a busy day working with of sophisticated design tools to create safe, long-lasting structures. You will see why he enjoys his work so much and learn how to become a licensed structural engineer.

How the Ancient Egyptian Pyramids Were Built

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Explore how and why the pyramids were built in ancient Egypt and analyze the architectural breakthroughs necessary to build ever-larger pyramids and the religious purpose for building them in these two video segments from NOVA: This Old Pyramid. Pyramids were more than monuments for the people who built them; they were doorways to the afterlife for the pharaoh.

Himalayan Megaquake | Building Earthquake-Resistant Homes

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Learn how engineering and construction technologies can help buildings survive earthquakes, in this video from NOVA: Himalayan Megaquake. A wooden frame hidden within the brickwork of an old palace in Nepal provides flexibility and tensile strength, which helped the building withstand a recent earthquake. Taking inspiration from this kind of timber lacing, engineers developed a similar system using local materials available in villages. Instead of using wood beams, villagers form bands using wire cages filled with rocks and mud. These features, called gabion bands, help village homes remain standing when an earthquake hits.

This resource was developed through WGBH’s Bringing the Universe to America’s Classrooms project, in collaboration with NASA. Click here for the full collection of resources.

Stonemason

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Build your understanding of this satisfying hands-on career where workers build attractive structures that are made to last a lifetime. 

 

Building Wonders | Hydraulic Engineering in Ancient Petra

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Learn how Nabataean engineers supplied the desert city of Petra with water more than 2,000 years ago, in this video from NOVA: Building Wonders: Petra. Archaeologists have discovered that underlying the city’s Great Temple is evidence of a citywide water system. However, the nearest spring that could have supplied the city with water is 5 miles away. After conducting a series of tests in the U.S. and taking measurements from Petra, a hydroengineer reveals the Nabataeans’ design solution that enabled them to transport water fast and without leaking from the spring to Petra: a ceramic pipeline with a precise slope of 4 degrees.

John Ochsendorf, Structural Engineer

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The life and career of MIT structural engineering professor John Ochsendorf is profiled in this program from the Inspiring West Virginians series.  Lesson plans for science and social studies are included.

Affordable Green Housing

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In this video, students learn and understand the importance of affordable housing to the social and cultural aspects of the community.

Scientist Profile: Wind Research Assistant

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Ameri Gurley gets blown away by her own research. That's because she's a graduate student at Texas Tech University where she studies the damaging affects of wind. In particular, Ameri looks at how house placement can reduce exposure to flying debris during a tornado or hurricane.

This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

Sustainability Engineering

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Greg discusses his career as a sustainability design engineer. He calls himself a "Green Engineer." He shares his two-fold focus: to create healthier living environments that conserve resources and design systems that make a positive environmental impact.

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