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Exploring Paper

Students feel comfortable with paper as a building material because it's familiar to them and easy to fashion and fabricate. Still, their understanding of its properties needs developing. Goldman does this by having students do investigations with paper, by exploring how it fails first under tension (pulling apart) and then under compression (pushing together).

In MOVIE 1, watch students predict where paper strip with a narrow middle will tear when pulled at both ends. Listen especially to students' different predictions
and explanations for where the paper actually tears during their experiments.

In MOVIE 2, students explore the compressive strength of paper rolled into tubes of various heights. (They do not vary the diameter of these tubes, though this is another key variable in tube design.) As a teacher, how would you describe their skills in designing and conducting these experiments? How would you address these issues about testing?

MOVIE 1:   3 minutes 19 seconds MOVIE 2:   3 minutes 56 seconds

NOTE: Short, larger-diametered tubes handle greater compressive Loads than taller, small-diametered ones. Why are longer tubes weaker under compression? Notice also that in both movies teams arrived at opposite results from the same tests. How did Goldman address this when it arose? Why did some teams get different results? How would you have responded?

 

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