"Hands On" at Home

Hands On at Home
Posted on 10/28/2020
Mr. Gidley's Tech classes had the opportunity to participate in a structural engineering project with a twist.  The assignment was to support 20lbs with nothing but an index card.  The students could use anything they had at home to equal the 20lbs.  The structure had to stand for 30 seconds and you had to be able to see light from one side to the other all around.  Sound impossible?  Turns out, it's not!  He's encouraging out-of-the-box thinking and reasoning skills.  Once the students tried to come up with an answer, he showed them the simple solution.

The pictures below illustrate just how it's done.  He began by taking an index card and tearing it into strips.  For the first set, he wound the strips tightly, securing them with tape.  For the second, he used wider strips, winding them less tightly.  He then placed the wound strips equidistant from each other.  Using 34 textbooks, weighing between 2.4 and 4.5 pounds each, he began stacking them on the wound strips.  One 3x5 inch index card held 34 textbooks over four feet in height and over 120 pounds, representing a 12 story, 10 ton skyscraper.

This was all part of a lesson in structural engineering.  He explained how buildings of the past were built wider and lower to the ground.  Once skyscrapers began to be built, foundations had to support more weight over a smaller footprint.  He also talked about new building materials in contrast with previous materials.  He talked about flexible steel and how new buildings, like those in Dubai, UAE had to sway with the wind coming across the desert.  It was an interesting demonstration!

Gidley Final

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