Building a Safe House Activity

Carol Friedland, Kleinpeter, Shelly

Building a Safe House

Learning Outcomes:

Students will understand how to prepare for a hurricane and learn how to mitigate possible damage.

Teacher Preparation

  • Time Required for Lesson:
  • 45-60 minutes plus tour

Materials Needed:

Building material for each group:

  • Two (2) large sheets for cardstock or construction paper
  • Four (4) straws
  • Glue or glue stick
  • Plastic wrap
  • Aluminum foil
  • Styrofoam tray
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Four (4) paper clips


1. Talk about the different building systems featured in LaHouse and on the tour emphasize the different hazard resistant techniques used (hurricane straps, hurricane shutters, reinforced walls, etc).

2. Divide group into manageable size (preferably groups of 4). Present the question, “How can buildings be constructed to resist the strong winds of hurricanes?” Have students make a list of some of the different things that they remember from the tour.

3. Give each group a set of building materials and instruct students to build the safest structure possible.

4. After students have made their construction list, allow them 30 minutes to construct their building. All houses must be a minimum of 80 cubic inches and have at least two (2) windows and one (1) door. Aluminum foil may be used for support, but may not be used as the main building material.

5. When the construction time is over, no group should be allowed to make any changes to its safe house. Begin to test each house for wind resistance. Use a fan at distance of ten (10) feet away from the house. This set-up simulates a tropical storm. Then, move the fan closer to simulate a category one hurricane. Move the fan closer to simulate stronger hurricanes. Place a tape marker on the floor designating a tropical storm and hurricanes at categories one through five to make the scoring more objective.

6. In conclusion, have students describe their construction and the reasons for their stability or instability in the wind. Ask the class whether the principles learned from the building model would apply to building a real building. Discuss the kinds of materials and construction techniques to make the safest homes.

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5/31/2023 4:08:26 PM
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