Students Build Structures Out Of Termite Mounds

Students Build Structures Out Of Termite Mounds

What are termites good for besides destruction? Well, a lot of things actually. Termites are well known for breaking down dead plant life that covers large areas of soil, which allows for new plant life to grow. Termites are also considered to be among the tastiest of edible insects. But most people already familiar with these two positive aspects of termites. What may surprise even some termite experts is that termite mounds can be used as a sort of clay for building structures. In fact, a non-profit charity group named Care for Life is sponsoring a group of engineering students, who are traveling to impoverished nations in order to demonstrate how termite mounds can be used as building materials.

A group of engineering students from Brigham Young University are teaching impoverished villagers in the African country of Mozambique how to build inexpensive latrines. These students are using termite mounds as clay, which they form into bricks. The charity group will also sponsor further student missions involving this process in other impoverished regions of the world. The idea to use termite mounds as pliable building blocks came about after senior university students were given a challenge by an engineering professor. The students were given a choice of projects, one of which involved figuring out a way to create building material at little or no cost for the benefit of impoverished communities. The students also had to make sure that the building materials could withstand rain, monsoons and other harsh climatic conditions. Initially, finding readily available, water-resistant building material within the natural environment of Mozambique proved to be difficult. Eventually, the students stole an idea from termites.

Termites construct their mounds from clay, which they gather from certain parts of ground soil. Termite mounds are typically seventy five percent clay. After several termite mounds were removed, the students molded the mounds into blocks. The blocks were then hardened in a cheap kiln. Finally, the students proceeded to construct the latrines. The resulting latrines successfully kept waste from flooding into the village during rainfall. Before this method was introduced, villagers used loose soil in order to build a barrier around latrines. However, this method failed to contain waste matter during bouts of rainfall. This new method means more villagers will be spared diseases such as cholera, and the student’s idea could even end up saving several lives.

Do you think that a sufficient amount of abandoned termite mounds exist in every impoverished African country to make this plan feasible?




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