Annex A - Group Research Proposal (Science)

Investigative Science Skills



Names: William Ming, Avani Jain, Ni Xu Gang Metta

Class: S2-07       

Group Reference: D

1. Indicate the type of research that you are adopting:

[    ] Test a hypothesis: Hypothesis-driven research

e.g. Investigation of the anti-bacteria effect of chrysanthemum

[    ] Measure a value: Experimental research (I)

e.g. Determination of the mass of Jupiter using planetary photography

[ X ] Measure a function or relationship: Experimental research (II)

e.g. Investigation of the effect of temperature on the growth of crystals

[    ] Construct a model: Theoretical sciences and applied mathematics

e.g. Modeling of the cooling curve of naphthalene  

[    ] Observational and exploratory research

e.g. Investigation of the soil quality in School of Science and Technology, Singapore  

[    ] Improve a product or process: Industrial and applied research

e.g. Development of a SMART and GREEN energy system for households  

2. Write a research proposal of your interested topic in the following format:

Title: The Investigation of the factors affecting the stability of a 4-storey square tower during an earthquake.

A. Question or Problem being addressed

Many buildings are collapsing and thus causing financial crisis because there are many earthquakes happening around the world (USGS, 2013). For example, in the 11 March 2011 Japan earthquake, almost 300,000 buildings were destroyed and a further one million were damaged. The financial cost of the damage was 10.4 trillion yen (approximately 132 billion SGD) for just the destruction of the buildings. (BBC, 2012). Thus, we would like to prevent the destruction of buildings and the resulting financial costs.

Most buildings (even poorly-designed and poorly-built buildings) are designed to withstand vertical load (“up-and-down loads”) so that they can carry their own weight and stay upright. However, buildings are not usually able to withstand horizontal load (“side-to-side loads”) unless they are designed specifically to do so. (Reid, n.d.).

During an earthquake, there are both surface and body waves. Body waves are almost entirely responsible for destruction caused by earthquakes. Body waves include both primary waves or p-waves (longitudinal waves), which are compressional waves travelling faster than other waves through earth, and secondary waves or s-waves (transverse waves), which are shear waves and are slower than p-waves (about 60% the speed of p-waves). (UPSeis, n.d.). This means that the ground and the buildings shake both vertically and horizontally. As mentioned above, most buildings cannot withstand a lot of horizontal load. This horizontal load causes the most damage to buildings and cause them to collapse.

Thus, there have been many measures put into place for buildings to be more earthquake resistant, such as using base isolation bearings, dampers such as the Taipei 101 Ball Bearing etc. These measures work towards reducing the horizontal load caused by the earthquake in order to reduce damage of buildings.

Other than these measures which have already been implemented in existing buildings, what other ways are there to reduce the horizontal load and damage? How would the type of bracing affect it? Does a damper actually work to increase earthquake resistance? How does the number of horizontal beams used to make each floor affect it? Through our research, we aim to find out the answers to these questions.

B. Goals / Expected Outcomes / Hypotheses

We aim to find out how the bracings, presence of dampers, and the number of beams used to make the floor plan affects the shake of the tower. By doing this, we aim for the data collected and our conclusion to be used to make buildings which are more resistant to earthquakes. Thus, damages would be minimised.

Expected Outcomes
After comparing and analysing our data, we expect to find that the X bracing will be ideal for reducing the shake of the tower. We also expect to find that adding a damper onto the building will make it more earthquake-resistant and that using more horizontal beams for each floor of the tower will also reduce the shake of the tower. We expect the conclusions we make to be supported by other previously-completed research papers.

We have 3 independent variables:
- the number of horizontal beams used to make each floor (“beam sets”)

The beam sets that we plan to build

- the type of bracings (sides of the tower)
The bracings that we plan to build

- the presence of a damper

Our dependent variable is the acceleration of shake of the tower, recorded by the QCN software and sensors in the form of a graph.

Our controlled variables are the position of the sensors on the tower, the amount of voltage (12V) used to power the shake table, the direction that the shake table shakes (y-axis), the materials used to make the towers and the height of the towers.

Based on these variables, we have created 3 hypotheses for our experiments:

Hypothesis 1: The greater the number of sticks used to make up the floor plan, the less the acceleration of shake of the tower.
Hypothesis 2: The “X” bracings work the best (least acceleration of shake of the tower) as compared to no bracings and the “\” bracings
Hypothesis 3: If the damper is present, the acceleration of shake of the tower should decrease.

C. Description in detail of method or procedures (The following are important and key items that should be included when formulating ANY AND ALL research plans.)

Equipment list:  

Saw x 1
Glue Gun x 2
Quake Catcher Network (QCN) Sensors x 5
Five QCN sensors and wires to connect to macbooks

Macbooks (with Windows software) x 5
60cm Wooden Sticks x 255
90cm Wooden Sticks x 350
Wooden Base Board x10
Ball Bearings x 4
Net x 2
Book-strap x 2
Cable tie
Bar magnet x 5
Scroll Saw x 1
Bench Drilling Machine x 1
Shake Table x 1
- consisting of:
- Crank Wheel x 1
- Connector (the part which connects the crank wheel to the platform) x 1
- Voltage Converter x 1
- DC Motor x 1
- Cable wire x 1
- Base board (for platform) x 1
- Large piece of wood x 1
- Springs x 8
        Voltage Converter                   DC Motor (used to turn the wheel) which moves the connector  
Close up of cable tie connecting shake table platform to the connector
Shake table platform supported by springs connected to a large piece of wood


• Procedures: Detail all procedures and experimental design to be used for data collection  

   Building of the tower
1. Draw a 17x17 square in the middle of the base board.
2. Glue 4 sets of 3 sticks together in the “L” shape.
Step 2 - L-shaped stick

3. Draw the outline of the “L” shape at the corner of the square.
4. Go to ADMT Studio 02 to drill the L shape holes using the bench drilling machine and scroll saw. File the holes in the base board so that it fits the L-shaped sticks.
Steps 1, 3-4. - Preparation of base board

5. Glue the 4 sets of 3 sticks into the L shape holes with the help of the 90-degree ruler so that they are perpendicular to the base board.
Step 5

6. Saw the sticks into 17 cm each.
7. Saw some other sticks into 18cm each.
8. Glue the 17cm sticks to the top floor of the tower (top marking on the L-shaped set of 3 sticks) to make the outer frame of the top floor the tower. This helps to ensure that the tower is straight and perpendicular to the base.
9. Repeat step 8 for the first floor.
10. Use the 18cm sticks and make the floorplan of the tower.
Step 8-10
Step 10 (Close up)
11 .Repeat steps 9 and 10 for all four levels.
12. Saw the sticks into slanted 19.5cm pieces each.
13. Glue the sticks onto the tower to make the bracings (if any).
14. Repeat steps 1-13 for the rest of the towers.
An example of a completed tower.

   Data Collection
1. Place one of the towers on the shake table.
2. Secure it onto the shake table using the book-straps.
3. Connect the 5 QCN sensors to one macbook each and place each of the sensors onto the positions marked on the tower. Secure the sensors using the cable ties.
Book-straps are used to secure the tower onto the shake table platform
A cable tie is used to secure the sensor onto the building.

4. Place the South pole of the bag magnet at the part of the compass where the arrow should be pointing towards. Secure it onto the sensor using double-sided tape This is done because the compass on the sensors at the bottom floor and the base do not point towards north as there it too much interference. Doing this ensures that the compass arrow points towards the direction that it should be pointing at (i.e. the direction labeled “North” on the sensor) at all times. This ensures that the graph would not be affected by compass interference.
Top view of magnet on sensor. The arrow on the compass is kept pointing towards the direction labeled north on the sensor
Example of the set-up.

5. Switch on the shake table and set the voltage source at 12V. Shake at 12V for 10 sec. The graphs of the shake at each part of the tower will be recorded on the macbook by the sensors.
Example of a graph generated by QCN during the earthquake simulation.

6. Switch off the shake table after 15 sec and press the pause button in the software at the same time. Save the graphs as “Earthquake Test_BeamSetNo., BracingName_FFloorNo.” on each macbook. (eg. Earthquake Test_1,X_F4). For the floor number, 0 will be used for the base while 4 will be used for the top floor. Remove everything that is on the shake table.
7. Repeat steps 1-5 using the rest of the towers, making sure that the positions of the sensors remain constant.
8. Place the first tower on the shake table.
9. Secure it onto the shake table using the straps.
10. Place the damper on top of the building.
11. Repeat steps 3-6. However, when repeating step 5, save the graphs as “Earthquake Test_BeamSetNo.,BracingName,Damper_FFloorNo.”. (eg. Earthquake Test_1,X,Damper_F4).

• Risk and Safety: Identify any potential risks and safety precautions to be taken.

'Risky' object
Harm it can cause us
How to avoid it

Coping Saw
It can cut our hand which might cause cuts which might lead to bleeding.
Ensure that you hair is neatly tied up and that you are not wearing any accessories or jewellery. Before we start using the coping saw, we should check for any defects like uneven set teeth. A line should be marked on the wood to ensure that there is a guide when sawing. When you make the first cut, use your thumb or the knuckle of your thumb on the hand holding the wood as a guide to ensure you cut along the cutline. Make sure no one is near you when sawing. If there are any accidents, seek immediate medical attention and report to a teacher.

Glue gun
It can burn our fingers or hands
Inspect the glue gun for cracks in the handle and body. Make sure there isn't old glue clogging the nozzle. If you find any type of damage to the glue gun or to the cord, do not use it! Place the glue gun on a secure surface such as a table. Place a sheet of paper underneath it to protect the table surface. Place a piece of aluminum foil under the nozzle of the glue gun to catch the overflow of glue that will run out of the nozzle. Be sure to keep your glue gun away from open flames. Use them with extreme caution and wear cloth gloves while operating it. If there are any accidents, seek immediate medical attention and report to a teacher.

Bench Drill
If the drill or the wood is not held properly, it might fly off-course and hit someone or the user.
Only use it under adult supervision and with caution.Wear a mask and safety goggles when using it. Ensure that you hair is neatly tied up and that you are not wearing any accessories or jewellery. Inspect for any defects. Make sure that the wood you are about to drill is held safely by a hand vice. Never hold work directly in the hand when drilling. Switch off the bench drill when you are about to change the drills. If there are any accidents, seek immediate medical attention and report to a teacher.

Scroll Saw
This may cause cuts which might lead to bleeding. Saw dust may also cause irritation upon entering the eye.
Only use under adult supervision and with caution. Wear a mask and safety goggles whenever using the scroll saw. Ensure that you hair is neatly tied up and that you are not wearing any accessories or jewellery. Check for any defects. Always switch off the scroll saw when you are changing the saw or removing the wood. Do not rush your work as you might damage the blade or your fingers might slip through. If there are any accidents, seek immediate medical attention and report to a teacher.

• Data Analysis: Describe the procedures you will use to analyze the data/results that answer research questions or hypotheses

1. Look at y-axis of one graph and find the difference between the highest and lowest points within each 1-second interval. Record down the difference in a table.
2. Find the average difference between the highest and lowest points of the graph by adding up the differences recorded in the previous step and dividing it by the total number of 1-second intervals. Record down this average difference.
3. Repeat steps 1-2 for all other graphs.
4. Compare the average difference between highest and lowest points of the graphs of F0 of the towers within each set:
Table of comparison sets.
*Refer to B. Goals / Expected Outcomes / Hypothesis for Beam Set no. and bracing names.
5. Repeat step 4 for the F1, F2, F3 and F4
6. Repeat step 4-5 for the rest of the sets.
7. Based on the comparisons and the data recorded, conclude how each factor affects the stability of the tower. (eg. Comparisons 1,2 and 3 will allow you to conclude the effect of the different floor plans. Comparisons 4,5, and 6 will allow you to conclude the effect of the different bracings. Comparisons 7-15 will allow you to conclude the effect of the presence of a damper.)

D. Bibliography: List at least five (5) major references (e.g. science journal articles, books, internet sites) from your literature review. If you plan to use vertebrate animals, one of these references must be an animal care reference. Choose the APA format and use it consistently to reference the literature used in the research plan. List your entries in alphabetical order

British Broadcasting Corporation. (2012, March 11). Japan quake: Loss and recovery in numbers. Retrieved 11 July, 2013, from

Reid, R. (n.d.). How to make buildings & structures earthquake proof. Retrieved 11 July, 2013, from

Siddiqi, Z. A. (n.d.). Bracing systems. Retrieved 10 July, 2013, from

United States Geological Survey. (2013, January). Historic World Earthquakes. Retrieved 11 July, 2013, from

UPSeis. (n.d.). What is seismology and what are seismic waves?.  Retrieved 11 July, 2013, from

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