Science Fair Project:

Tensile Strength Test

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Materials

  • Fishing line
  • Garbage bag
  • Twine
  • Rubber band
  • Plastic wrap
  • Strand of hair
  • Spring scale gauge
  • Notebook and pen
  • Any other material you would like to test

Procedure

  1. Tie a short length of your test material in a secure knot around the hook of the spring scale.
  2. Secure the top of the spring scale to something steady, like a table or wall.
  3. Pull on the test material until it breaks. Keep an eye on the spring scale reading. (Depending on your spring scale, some of your test materials may not break before the spring scale breaks. Be careful!)
  4. Record the force measured by the spring scale right before the test material breaks.
  5. Compare results.

Results

Fishing line will have the greatest tensile strength, while hair will have the weakest.

Why?

Tensile testing is often used to determine whether or not a material will be useful for a given purpose, such as catching a fish, or building an airplane. Many objects obey Hooke’s Law, F = kx (where F is force needed to extend or compress, x is distance of extension of compression, and k is stiffness), which is a description of force for springs, but also applies well to many elastic objects (objects that can be stretched). This means the force applied to an object (in our experiment, the force of pulling), is proportional to the change in the length of the object, until it deforms or breaks.

Author: Erin Bjornsson
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