Cardboard or Fiberboard in our Schools


Cardboard Construction Destructive Testing 

By Corporal Willy, February 23rd 2010


   One of the volunteer jobs that I do while being retired is to write for   My articles report on the various items I find that might be interesting to technologists, engineers, scientists and physicists worldwide.  These articles should also be of interest to teachers all over the world, because I do include science projects now and then that can be used for classroom projects and school science events.  Today I started a special project in our schools in Las Vegas and hopefully it will be adopted everywhere in the world.  The use of cardboard or fiberboard as it is sometimes called can be used to build small construction projects and then used in “destructive testing.” 

This is nothing new and many teachers have already been using this material in school science projects for many years.  What is different here is that I want the young students to perform destructive testing on what they build to help generate that data that is missing at this time.  Using their own imaginations and configurations they can utilize those ideas to test for strength in their designs.  This morning I went to a school to witness the testing of a cardboard project that I built awhile ago and that students would perform the destructive testing on.  These high school students were very professional at doing this test and cooperated fully with each other to get the job done.  Along with this article posting there will be a short 2 minute video included so you can see the actual event that took place.  We are all interested in what our children are learning and doing in school.  There is a great deal of interest out there when I write articles on this topic so I hope that Cardboard Constructions will catch on with schools everywhere that teach designing or pre-engineering courses.  I will gladly accept everything sent to me about similar projects done in schools anywhere and I will write about it or accept the teachers write up with the verification of the results.  It will then be posted to the web site where it will be viewed and enjoyed by engineers, scientists, physicists, designers and teachers all over the world.  Note: (A delay between the actual testing date and the posting date had to occur in order to allow time for student picture release forms to be signed and put on file before publishing this article)



First off, I would like to show a picture of this great school.  The name comes from the fact that it is close to a mountain range and is located in the foothill region or base of it.



 Foothills High School CC Testing 002


Down below here is the test subject.  I beams that are 1 inch thick in global size and ten inches long will be the main supports in this simple structure.  The whole project was glued to the cardboard base to provide a non-movable support that the model could be tested on.  Elmer’s Wood Glue was used as the fastening method.  The model is missing four other cross braces that I failed to get done on time before delivering it to the school class.


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A project test briefing was conducted by Ms. Rogers, before hand and various tasks were assigned to expedite things.  Our young men in the class were sent to the workout gym to get some different sized weights to use in this static testing.  Everyone had a task to do.  Some were designated as observers to study the columns to let us know when anything started to deform or break.  Cameras were used by the students to record everything from different angles.

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We started by placing one 45 lb weight directly centered on the top surface.  Without bouncing any weight upon the one already placed there a second 45 lb weight was added.  You can now notice a slight deforming of the one I beam on the left hand side as you look down its length.

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Young eyes are glued on the project test subject and some students are taking pictures from various angles.  Right now we see 140 lbs of weight piled up on this very simple construction.  It is simply amazing that it can resist falling down now with that kind of a static stress test placed upon it.  Deformation was definitely seen but it is still standing up to the weight placed on top of it.

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Here is a close in look with a minute gone by already and still holding.  Eyes are looking for indications of eminent destruction that will take place.  A really great learning experience is being taught here.  Some of these young students will be doing similar things like this in their future careers.

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Some students spotted deformation of the cross bracing, top surfaces and I beams meant to span across the bottom surface of the top flat section.  Yet it is standing up well beyond my own expectations of only 100 lbs.

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This simple cardboard construction finally gave out at 150 lbs or 68.03 Kilograms or 1,800 Taels (Chinese) which is truly remarkable.

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This is or was only a simple cardboard structure weighing less than one pound.  Importantly the results that the students got from doing this destructive testing will be recorded and historically archived with all the data and pictures.  Would there be any schools out there that could get any better results with the same type of design, size and materials?  I really wonder about that don’t you?

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Destroyed yes, but much information was gathered here along with the dramatic results.  I know I learned a lot from witnessing this test done by our students.  One big thing that I learned here is that if you challenge youngsters to accomplish an important task they will not let you down.  Ms. Rogers knows her class of students well and they did perform just like she knew they would.  You all did a great job on this testing here.

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It was kind of sad to see my project flattened like this, but it was only a sacrifice of my time and a little glue.  Kind of resembles the look of a modern art thing, but I wanted a few final pictures of it to share with all of you out there and for me to remember it by.

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 I included some more screen shots from the video I made of this test down below here for you.  Take a look at the actual video footage here:  look for Corporal Willy Ariticles from the top right blog tab.   Most of the time I use red banners for my titles.    


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Awards for this class project were hats and tee shirts sent by the SolidWorks Corporation headquartered in Boston.  I wanted to make sure that we thanked them properly here and also the parent company, Dassault Systemes that is located in France.  Thank you both for making this class project successful and rewarding for the students.  We all learned a lot from doing this so we will now move on to bigger and even better construction projects. 

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Here is the face of a happy teacher who had a very high level of participation and interest in her classroom today.  Thank you Ms. Rogers for allowing your students to do this destructive testing that will be recorded and archived at with your school, your students and your leadership behind it. 

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Once again I want to say thank you and well done to this class.  Your interest in doing this along with the class pictures and video will be online for the world to see and enjoy.

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I really think the class enjoyed themselves today.  I know I did.  It would be nice to see some other similar projects like this from our other schools and from around the world too.  There is a lot of talent out there from students in every country and the adult world would like to see what they can do.  Maybe we could have some friendly competitions of various types of structures all made from this wonderful cheap material called cardboard or fiberboard.  Bye and take care.


Richard Williams




 Some final details were worked out and now testing can be started.  Students were asked what they thought the Cardboard Construction would be able to hold before the project would fail.  A wide span of guesses were made that were not too much different from those engineers in the world that I polled before the test.  I thought that was pretty important and funny at the same time.


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Corporal Willy

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