Building for Natural Disasters

Richard Kimball
Drexel University
Delaware Teen Science Cafe



The first ever Delaware Teen Science Café was titled “Building for Natural Disasters,” featuring guest speaker Richard Kimball and was organized by the Delaware Museum of Natural History. Richard Kimball is a fourth year architectural engineer student at Drexel University working to get his BS/MS degree. As a child, Mr. Kimball thought he wanted to become an architect  and said, “I’ve always been very logical. I would sit down and draw a building and ask myself how and if it would be able to stand up.” This is what led him to gain an interest in architectural engineering. The Café topic focused on architectural engineering and and building structures meant to withstand natural disasters. He discussed how many buildings have special precautionary safety measures in case of a fire, hurricane, flood, or earthquakes. One of the teens who attended the café said, “This was really fun and informal. It’s a cool way to learn and get teens involved in STEM.” Following a brief presentation, the teens broke up and did an activity using the things they learned.

Hands on Activity

To go along with Mr. Kimball’s presentation the teens that attended the café partook in an activity to demonstrate how to create a sound structure. They all gathered around tables in groups to create marshmallow and spaghetti structures that would withstand the force of the earthquake table. To start the activity the teens were given a handful of raw spaghetti and a bag of marshmallows and worked together to start building. Not only were they able to incorporate themes of tension, torsion, and compression into their designs, but they were able to collaborate and learn from each other. The activity allowed the teens to have a better understanding of architectural engineering in terms of real-life situations. Overall, it was a successful first Teen Science Café at the Delaware Museum of Natural History!