Breaking the Mold

A little too much strain could cause a lot of stress. Groups conduct a strength test on clay. Using books as weights, pupils measure the compression of clay columns and calculate the associated strain and stress. Teams record their data on the stress versus strain graph and compare the results to those of concrete and steel.

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CCSS: Designed
NGSS: Designed
Instructional Ideas

  • Use different consistencies of clay
Classroom Considerations

  • The class needs to understand compressive and tensile forces and their actions on different types of bridges
  • Form the pillars from the clay before the activity and wrap to keep them from drying out
  • The eighth activity in a unit of 10

  • The answer sheet has example solutions to give you an idea of how it should look with your own data
  • The activity plan comes with troubleshooting tips to help you with setup and anticipate possible errors

  • None