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2D Paper Trusses for K12 STEM Education

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Outreach Along the K-12 Pathways to Engineering

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.2.1 - 23.2.11



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Paper Authors

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Kelly B Crittenden Louisiana Tech University Orcid 16x16

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Heath Tims Louisiana Tech University

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David E. Hall Louisiana Tech University

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2D Paper Trusses as a Mechanism for Teaching K12 Fundamental STEM TopicsTruss projects have long been used as a hands-on demonstration in K12 school systems. Manytimes these are not tied to fundamental principles, and are used primarily to “excite” the students.Other truss projects cover many of the fundamental concepts that are needed, but use a 3-dimensional truss that is hard to construct within the constraints of a high school class or hasdifficulty in matching the results of analytical and experimental testing._________ University has partnered with high schools in our region to develop a project-basedphysics curriculum. As part of the Work & Mechanics module within the hands-on curriculum,2-dimensional paper trusses are used to introduce the concept of forces and vectors to students.As an application of these fundamentals, the truss project tasks students with analyzing andbuilding a 2-dimensional truss using mat board (used in picture framing) and common manilafolders. One of the unique features of the trusses used in this project is the use of pinned joints.Typically, truss projects use glue or other methods of assembling the joints. Part of the errorbetween calculated results and actual performance of the trusses is a result of this mounting.Methods for analyzing trusses are based upon true pinned joints. Our approach of using screw-type pinned joints allow for the student design to match the analytical solutions. An additionaladvantage of this type of construction is that the trusses can be easily built in the classroomwithout the need for expensive equipment or a significant amount of time. Additionally, themethod of joints can be applied to analyze and predict the forces associated with each member.A testing apparatus is used to validate the ultimate force that the truss can withstand.This paper will present the curriculum material, the project materials, and the testing apparatus.This paper also provides clear examples of the hands-on 2-dimensional truss project for teachingSTEM fundamentals, as well as assessment data regarding the experiences of high schoolteachers.

Crittenden, K. B., & Tims, H., & Hall, D. E. (2013, June), 2D Paper Trusses for K12 STEM Education Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19011

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