Episode 226: Preparation for materials topic

Advance warning
Many university materials science departments are happy to provide access to their facilities to give students the experience of using ‘real’ equipment, such as tensile testing machines (to measure the Young modulus), and microscopes. Contacts may be made through the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IoM3). The institute also provides resources (including speakers) and has a schools’ affiliation scheme.


Main aims
Students will:

  • interpret stress-strain graphs
  • measure the Young modulus of a selection of materials
  • solve problems involving the Young modulus
  • compare materials by comparing their stress-strain graphs

Prior knowledge
Students are likely to have studied Hooke’s Law. They may also have a broad knowledge of terms which describe materials (stiff, strong, brittle etc.) as well as knowing about different classes of materials (metals, polymers, ceramics…).

It will be helpful if they have learned to use vernier scales and micrometer screw gauges, but they can also learn about them in this topic. (A useful Java applet for the vernier scale is on the National Taiwan Normal University website, and was available in August 2005).

Episode 228-6: Measure for measure (Word, 82 KB)

Where this leads
This topic could lead into a discussion of other important aspects of materials – electrical, thermal, optical, magnetic and other properties.

For students with an interest in both Chemistry and Physics, Materials Science could provide an interesting career path.

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Episode 226: Preparation for materials topic (Word, 36 KB)