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Engineering Tests with the Vernier Structures and Materials Tester

Vernier Structures and Materials Tester

Years ago, Dave Vernier loved to run bridge building competitions while teaching physics in Hillsboro, Oregon. The students became more engaged with these hands-on activities, and competition often brought out their best efforts. The only part of the process that Dave did not relish was testing all of the bridges his students made. Borrowing weights from the PE teacher to hang off the bridges, pouring sand into a bucket suspended under the bridges, and rigging up a scissor jack to apply a load to the structures all worked but required a lot of effort and were time-consuming! Dave attributes this activity to his initial exploration of electronic sensors and the beginnings of Vernier Software & Technology.

Fast forward 40 years, and these early seeds of the company became the basis for a new product. It turns out teachers like Dave are still looking for a device that will quickly and accurately test a structure to failure while collecting valuable data. The answer is the Vernier Structures and Materials Tester (VSMT).


Bridge Testing Competition

Side-by-side comparison of bridge efficiency in a competition

The VSMT has a load cell rated to 1000 N (225 lbs) and a displacement sensor capable of measuring deflection to a tenth of a millimeter. It is ideal for exploring the strength of materials and engineered structures.

The VSMT ships with a well-outfitted Tackle Kit to allow for a variety of methods to connect structures to the test platform. Logger Pro experiment files make testing prototypes and conducting classroom competitions easy and convenient. Another file allows for an in-depth analysis of beam deflection.

A local Oregon high school with an excellent bridge building program has been putting the VSMT through its paces. One student noted that it is much easier to see exactly what element of his bridge failed. The force applied to the structure can be removed as soon as failure occurs and the rest of the structure often remains intact. Combining the data from the test with video allowed the student to pinpoint the failure and repair his structure for further testing!


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