Intro to Engineering students discussed the use of concrete in high-rise buildings, including the types of reinforcements commonly used in construction and the importance of allowing concrete to properly set. The class examined a variety of ways to create strong and stable concrete structures and speculated which would be the most successful. To test their theories on a smaller scale, each student created a concrete puck. They would put their pucks’ structural integrity to the test by dropping them from various heights.
To begin, they carefully measured water and a cement mixture to create their concrete. They then selected a maximum of two household materials to incorporate into their pucks, including paper clips, pipe cleaners, Easter grass, Styrofoam balls, and straws. The pucks were then given adequate time to cure. Next, it was time to put them to the test.
Moving outside, each group tossed their strongest puck from various heights (first-, second-, and third-floor increments). The class examined each for cracks and breaks after each drop and determined which puck finished in the best shape. They discussed the most successful reinforcements used and related the materials they used to the materials in a construction site.
The project was an engaging way for students to experience the durability of concrete, understand the importance of proper procedures and reinforcements, and better understand why concrete is used in so many ways.