Exploring Stress and Strain

Stress and Strain

Today we spent our time discussing material strength – an important property in building materials if you want to make something that is able to withstand an earthquake! After a brief discussion of the various ways to stress and strain a material, the students experimented by bending paperclips, stretching rubber bands, and examining the light patterns in plastics as seen through polarizing films.

We learned that linguini can actually be pretty strong – depending on the kind of stress put on it, and that a little tape can keep a balloon from exploding. We also learned that introducing small flaws or impurities into a material’s crystal structure can actually strengthen the material, a fact blacksmiths have been exploiting for millennia.

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