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Chances are that your school building uses trusses in its design. If you look at a bridge, a bicycle, or a roof, you will also see trusses at work. Have you ever wondered about the purpose of a truss or why they look the way they do? If you are designing a roof, why not just use a beam? In addition to the shedding of rain and snow, does the triangular shape provide other advantages? Your goal is to investigate the basic truss shape to understand what factors affect its strength and stability. After some investigation you will use your new knowledge to design and test your own truss.


  • Students will develop a model based on observations (of their own devising) from the physical world.
  • Students will develop an understanding of how the design of a truss affects its strength.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following sensors and equipment. Additional equipment may be required.

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This experiment is #4 of Materials Testing: Beams to Bridges with Go Direct® Structures & Materials Tester. The experiment in the book includes student instructions as well as instructor information for set up, helpful hints, and sample graphs and data.

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