The Ashley Bryan School

The Ashley Bryan School
Serving Children in Grades K-8 from the Cranberry Isles

Friday, February 10, 2012

Compression, Tension and Shear

A special guest came to visit our school this week, and man did we have some fun (and learning something, too). 

Jeri Spurling is an architect and she also lives on Islesford.  She came to our school for about 3 hours this week to teach us about structural engineering.  She began her presentation by talking about the forces of compression, tension and shear. 
Then the students had a chance to see the forces in action.  First a student built this building and Jeri showed us how the forces of compression and shear will easily knock it down.   

After learning about those forces and how engineers and architects make those forces work together for buildings and other structures to stand up, our students got to try their hands at some structural engineering. 

The six middles and olders were split into three teams.  Each team was given 30 index cards.  Their challenge was to build a structure from those 30 index cards that would stand up and hold a one-gallon bucket. 

To add to the challenge the students could not use any tape to hold their structures together. 

The three teams all built structures that stood up.  They were quite pleased with their accomplishments! 

But only one team's structure managed to hold the bucket. 

Next it was time to add weights to the bucket!  This structure held the bucket plus two weights!
At the end of the first session, the students wanted another chance.  Jeri agreed to come back the next day and we all tried again!
When Jeri returned she share some new ideas with us. 

She showed us how a piece of paper folded in many different ways makes the paper much, much stronger! 

And she showed us that when you use different shapes, different folds, different curves and make them work together, you get something really strong. 

Now the kids were ready for their second try.  Their ideas were really different!  Check out these pillars. 

This team went with sets of triangles working together.

Pretty interesting design, huh?

This team continued with their winning concept from yesterday--squares. 

Now it's time to test the strength of the new structures. 

This team's structure held the bucket.  But how much weight will it handle? 

The bucket is filling up. 

Now it's overflowing!  All together, this structure was 9 inches tall and it held 10 blocks!

But this structure was really the one to wow us.  At 12 inches tall, it looked so fragile.  We held our breath as the bucket went on top of the structure.   It handled the bucket. 

And then it began to fill up with blocks!  We were so nervous as each additional block went into the bucket. 

It was filling up with blocks!

In the end, the structure held 15 blocks!! 
We had such fun making these index card structures.  We can't wait for Jeri to come back to help us make structures from spaghetti!

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