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Demo of shear walls and moment frames

Demonstration of Shear Walls and Moment Frames
This is a demonstration to the class on
how shear walls and moment frames
can be used to stabilize buildings
subject to lateral loads.
After this activity, students should be
able to:
• Explain how a shear wall works to
stabilize buildings
• Explain how moment frames work
to stabilize buildings
• Predict whether or not a building
will resist lateral loads based on its
lateral resisting system
Materials List
• 21 popsicle sticks
• Wooden 2x4 at least the length of
3 popsicle sticks
• Round head paper fasteners
Shear Wall
• Thick cardstock, with a width of
one popsicle stick and a height of 3
popsicle sticks.
Moment Frame
• Binder clips
Wind and earthquakes create lateral
loads on buildings that need to be
resisted. Two ways in which these loads
can be resisted is through the use of
shear walls and moment frames. This
demo provides visual examples of
how these methods work to stabilize
structures subject to lateral loads.
In this activity, a building frame is
constructed using popsicle sticks
connected using paper fasteners.
First, show that a building without any
lateral load resisting system will fail
subject to wind or earthquake.
Shear walls can be built in concrete or
steel (typically concrete) and typically
surround the core of the building,
which is where the elevators and
stairs typically are. The shear walls
help resist the effects of wind and
earthquake by providing a lateral
resistance that is not provided by a
frame where the members are pinned
together. In this activity, a shear well
can be implemented with a square of
cardboard attached to the frame.
students predict which is stable and which
is not, furthering their understanding.
They should understand that every floor
needs at least one system to prevent the
floor from collapse under lateral / shear
Building Strength Demo (IRIS Earthquake
Science). Robert Butler. Video accessible
at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPvkfzevJ-Q
Build a Better Wall (IRIS Earthquake Science). Robert Butler. Materials accessible
at https://www.iris.edu/hq/inclass/demo/
Build a Better Wall: Parts & Construction
(IRIS Earthquake Science). Robert Butler.
Materials accessible at https://www.iris.
Another way to resist lateral loads is to
make the connections in the structural
frame rigid. By creating moment connections, the spots where the beams
and columns come together are kept
at 90 degrees. This provides rigidity to
the building, creating a resistance to
the lateral loads. These connections
can be just on one bay (on each floor),
so one floor’s moment connections
can be removed to show that that floor
will collapse with no lateral resisting
system, even though the other floors
stayed rigid.
Finally, a braced frame can be
explained. One can use rubber bands
for diagonal elements that can resist
lateral loads as well. Pictures showing
the braces in different portions of
the building can be used to have the
source: Earthquake Engineering Research
Institute (EERI)
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. NSF 14-32426, 14-31717,
and 14-31609. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the materials provided are those of the
author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
The Creative Art of Structural and Civil Engineering