The roles of materials scientists and engineers are diverse ranging from growing cell cultures for biomaterials to developing high performance alloys. The testing of all of the materials we create and work with is fundamentally important to determine their properties and modes of failure. There are a plethora of tests used to determine material properties from their lubricity (essentially how slippery they are), to their electrostatic field and how likely they are to give you a zap from static electricity. Bending tests are some of the oldest and widely used and are used to determine the elasticity, bending moment and flexural modulus of samples.
Using a 3 point, 4 point and cantilever bending test rig you can print at school, we have created a series of lesson plans for you can use to guide student through the concepts of elasticity, bending, flexural modulus and then beam geometry. The lesson plans run through points in the HSC Engineering Studies syllabus however they are also applicable to many other disciplines including physics and maths.
How to get test rigs
The test rigs are available on Thingiverse (thing 4609818) and are based on an open source 3 point bending test developed by CNC Kitchen. In these files is a full test rig which allows for 3 point, 4 point and cantilever testing and also a 3 point test rig which is much faster to print. You will require a 3d printer or access to a 3d printing facility to effectively run this lesson plan (print settings at the thingiverse link). If you are in a NSW school that doesn't have access to a 3d printer, get in touch and we will try and connect you with some resources. If you have a machine shop, you could also fabricate something similar to this design and still use these lesson plans.