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Others Like “Strength of Different Construction Materials”

Project Idea
How strongly do different types of nails hold in wood? Try different diameters of nails, and try pounding them to different depths. To gauge the holding strength, measure how difficult it is to remove the nail. Can you pull it out with a pair of pliers? Can you remove it with the hammer claw? Do you have to push only a little bit, moderately hard, or as hard as you can? Do you need a crowbar? What happens if you pre-drill holes for the nails, using drill bits that are different… Read more
CE_p019
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Project Idea
Try gluing wood together with different types of glue, e.g.: regular white glue, yellow wood glue, cyanoacrylate (super glue), and Liquid Nails. Glue a short piece (5–8 cm) to the center of a longer piece (15–30 cm). After the glue has dried for the recommended time, drill a small hole through the center of the joint, big enough to pass through a piece of coat-hanger wire. Cut a length of coat hanger wire, pass it through the hole, and twist the ends together to form a loop. Place the ends… Read more
CE_p021
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Project Idea
The different species of wood used in construction offer a variety of challenges based on density, porosity, oils in the wood, flexibility, elasticity, etc. The intended use, e.g., structural or cosmetic, presents different challenges as well. The glue must be compatible with the wood, the use, and the climate, so many experiments are possible. For example, you could design an experiment to test the durability of different adhesives using the same wood. Or, you could try different wood… Read more
MatlSci_p027
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Project Idea
If you like to fish and you'd rather not be telling the story of "the one that got away," then this is a project for you. What combination of properties makes for the best fishing line? Here are some suggestions for getting started on your background research into fishing line properties: knot strength, abrasion strength, shock strength, tensile strength, limpness, controlled stretch, and desired range of visibility (Dodson, 2006). Choose the properties that you think are most important, and… Read more
MatlSci_p028
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
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The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal near Falkirk in central Scotland. It consists of two diametrically opposed caissons which rotate to lift boats between the two canals through a height of 35 meters. The wheel is always perfectly balanced and, despite its enormous mass, rotates through 180° in less than four minutes, using just 1.5 kilowatt-hours (Wikipedia contributors, 2006). Do background research to find out how much energy… Read more
Energy_p006
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
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Visit your local landfill to collect dumping statistics by watching the types of trash people bring to the dump. Identify problem areas and types of waste that are commonly brought to the dump. Propose new uses for common landfill problems like tires, construction materials, plastics, appliances, and computer parts. Measure packaging materials of some common products. Invent ways to reduce the amount of packaging and increase the use of recyclable materials like popcorn or corn-based packing… Read more
EnvSci_p036
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
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What are the best materials to use for blocking out unwanted noise from the environment? You can build a test box (or test frame) around an audio speaker. Use a sound level meter to measure the speaker output. Use different materials to cover the walls of your test box (or frame), and see which materials do the best job at blocking the sound. For a more advanced project, perform your tests using different sound frequencies. Are some materials better at blocking certain frequencies than… Read more
MatlSci_p033
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
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Does adhesive tape hang tight at different temperatures? Measure the adhesive strength of tape at both low and high temperatures. To raise the temperature, we suggest using a blow dryer at both low and high heat settings. To lower the temperature, use an ice pack (try to keep condensation from forming on the tape and confounding the results). For even lower temperatures you could try "dry ice" (frozen carbon dioxide), if available. (Wear heavy gloves when handling dry ice, because it can… Read more
MatlSci_p031
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
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Did you know that you can make a simple hygrometer (a device for measuring the relative humidity of the air) with hair? This type of hygrometer is easy to build (for instructions, see: http://www.fi.edu/weather/todo/hygrometer.html). Does the type of hair used in the hygrometer affect the accuracy of the results? Do some types of hair respond faster than others? Do some types of hair give a larger (or smaller) response? You could get hair samples from classmates, or a local beauty shop. Use… Read more
MatlSci_p035
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Project Idea
Research the famous collapse of the Tacoma Narrows suspension bridge. What lessons were learned about the potentially damaging effects of wind on bridges? What structures stabilize a bridge against wind forces? Build models and use a wind tunnel to test your hypothesis. Read more
Aero_p030
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Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
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