The Block Plan at Colorado College has a tradition of innovation and flexibility. Please design your own three-and-a-half week intellectual adventure and describe what you would do.
Natural disasters are one the major problems in today's society. They claim hundreds of thousands of lives, and billions of dollars annually and often hold back developing nations from advancing further, as in Haiti or Bangladesh. This block will be focused on brainstorming, building, and testing solutions to a certain natural disaster, in order to minimize the loss of life and damage to infrastructure, before and after the disaster. The disaster can change every time the block is offered, in order to give some variety. Potential disasters can include volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, etc. For my own block, I would choose a mudslide, and so the rest of this plan focuses on mudslides.
The first 2 days of the block will be spent listing the various causes and consequences of a mudslide, with each person tackling one aspect of the disaster. Since I am more of a physics person, I will focus on the problems which are physical in nature, such as the collapse of buildings under the force of the mudslide.
The next 2 days will be spent brainstorming possible solutions to the various problems. In my case, I would try to redesign the shape of a building to allow the mudslide to flow around it with little or no resistance. I will also have to determine if there are already any feasible solutions to any of the problems, perhaps in other fields. For example, submarine is designed to pass through water with little resistance, and so the shape of a submarine can be adapted to fit my design. However, I also have to take into account the fact that a mudslide can come from various directions, and my design will have to be adapted for that.
There will be two weeks allocated to build and test my design. Obviously, building an entire house will be quite difficult, so a scale model should be built. In order to test the structural integrity of the building, a simulated mudslide will be shot at the model from every direction. If the model survives the first round, a second round will be held, with a faster or heavier mudslide, until the structure fails. The failure point can be compared to mudslides in the past, and if it is higher than most mudslides, than the design can be judged a success. If not, then depending on how much time is left a second design can be tested.
The remainder of the block will be spent evaluating the design, and how successful it was. Even if my design is successful, I would use the remainder of the time to suggest potential improvements, or extensions of the design to be used in other disasters, such as floods or tsunamis.