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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

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Physics test truss stress load

On campus physics classes had a history of disappointment for both the staff and students. This year is different. Rod Atchley, science teacher, challenges his class of 10 students to expand their knowledge through their own mistakes and achievements. Each student built a model of a truss bridge from strips of manila folders.

The project began in early February and was finally completed on Mar. 13. When testing the bridges’ integrity, the students saw the effects of construction quality on the performance of their structure.

“When we finally finish,” Atchley said, “we’ll load them up with 20 pounds of books and see how they hold up. The bridges are actually designed to hold twice that amount but every contractor knows not to test them at their maximum weight ability.”

A truss is defined as a structure composed of members- the strips and triangles of manila folders- connected together to form a rigid framework.

“Michelle (Nacthigall, ’04) and I accidentally glued the pins into the bridge,” JennyFicklin, ’04, said. “After strenuous work we managed to free them and our bridge held 13 pounds ?which was more than the required weight-of textbook.”

Although several of the students do not hope to become contractors, they will become aware of the challenges in structural engineering. They learned of the following concepts: force, reaction, equilibrium, tension, compression and strength.

“The students will also learn how to structurally analyze geometry,” Atchley said. “By watching their structure hold the weight, they can determine how much stress is on each member of the bridge and how to shift that stress to create a more sturdy bridge.”

For more information on the project, contact Atchley at 297-9464.

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