In an effort to break the monotony of CAD work, I decided to have the students do a quick (or what I thought would be quick) "settle-in" hands-on activity. It took on a life of its own.
I told the students that each of them could have two sheets of paper, one paper clip, six toothpicks, and four inches of tape. The goal was to build some type of structure that would hold as many textbooks as possible, at least two inches off the table. Some students immediately blew it off as "silly", and others took it to heart. A few managed to hold a couple books, some five, and others ten. Then things got interesting.
The photos below show Gabe Quinto's completed design. His structure held an enormous stack of books, magazines, and a ream of paper. After stacking the first ten or fifteen books, others started to notice and gather around. Then the questions started. "How did you do that!?" "How is that possible?" Next thing I knew we were into a discussion about structural failure modes of compression, tension, overturning, twisting, and shear. The students were debating how the structure would ultimately fail. We discussed center of gravity, torque, inertia and momentum. Gabe's simple yet sophisticated design was impressive.
Carl K. Crawford, P.E.
Hannaford Career Center