Materials List: Battle of the Beams

Each group needs:

  • 1 aluminum foil mold (0.5 x 0.5 x 5 inches; 1.27 x 1.27 x 12.7 cm; see below)
  • 4 party-size Laffy Taffy® candies
  • 510 ml tap water
  • 1 glass stir rod
  • 1 hot plate
  • 2 beakers
  • 1 graduated cylinder
  • 1 thermometer
  • 1 oven mitt or glove rated for a minimum of 350 °F
  • 1 metal or plastic tray ~1 inch (2.54 cm) deep
  • lab aprons and safety goggles/glasses, for each student
  • Battle of the Beams Activity Worksheet, one per student

To share with the entire class:

Photo shows a hand pinching flat the end of what looks like a long tray made of silvery foil.
Test beam mold made from foil and tape.
Copyright © 2012 Marc Bird, University of Houston.

  • 1 balance, for measuring reinforcements
  • 1 box spaghetti noodles (dry, uncooked, for use as a reinforcement phase)
  • Nerds® candy (for use as a reinforcement phase)
  • 1 bag long-grained rice (for use as a reinforcement phase)
  • plastic containers to hold each type of reinforcement
  • 2 flat tables spaced ~3 inches apart (alternative: 2 ring stands with horizontal extensions)
  • spring scale, or other device for measuring weight (optional, if want to continuously measure beam load)
  • assorted weights that can be hung by string or placed in/on weight container/pan
  • fishing line (10-pound test) or string
  • scissors, to cut fishing line/string
  • 1 paper towel
  • soap and water at sink, for cleaning glassware
  • (optional) yardstick
  • (optional) first place team prize (perhaps leftover candies)

To make an aluminum foil mold, one per group: