Setting Standards High

Hello Dear WordPress Readers,

Now that we have our new cornerstone project, it is critical that we know how to build a structure that will support our endeavors and withstand the crazy Austin weather. So how are we learning how to do this? The answer is Free Body Diagrams and Calculating Force Vectors!

The design we are using for our greenhouse!

The design we are using for our greenhouse! Photo Credits: Ana White

Free Body Diagrams are how we show if an object is in equilibrium. Equilibrium is when an object is balanced, either at rest or at a constant velocity. We are building a greenhouse for our cornerstone and  we don’t want it to be moving, so our goal is to build a structure that will stay balanced at rest. When trying to draw a free body diagram, it is critical that we know all the forces being acted upon this object, even at rest. An object has many forces being acted upon it, but these forces are all balanced. Some forces that are very common in resting objects are, the weight of the actual object because of gravity pulling it down, the normal force that the object is resting on (aka the ground) pulling it up, then any forces of other objects or tension caused by a cord or string. When we are drawing our free body diagrams it’s really important that we include all the forces and we start each force from the center and go the direction that it is acting on our object. To make sure that our structure will be sound, we have to do lots of practice problems and examples, unless we want our greenhouse to crumble on top of all our plants.

Fellow peer Lucia, doing some practice problems!

Fellow peer Lucia, doing some practice problems!

 

Now that we know the forces being acted upon our structure, we need to figure out how much each forces acts on the structure, and how do we do that you ask? We have to calculate Force Vectors! To make sure that our greenhouse will be stable for generations of ARS students, we need to calculate the amount of force each object will put on our structure and make sure that our greenhouse and all our boards and nails will stay in place, even in bad weather. To do this, we have to know a little bit about trig functions such as sine, cosine, and tangent, or how we like to remember it SOH CAH TOA. For the few of us not in Pre-Cal we needed to learn these new mathematical tools so that we would be able to calculate how strong our structure will need to be to endure all the forces acting upon it. Luckily, using our handy dandy mnemonic device, we were able to pick it up pretty fast and again we did some practice problems to help us get better!

 

With the techniques and practice that we are getting, in no time we will have a wonderful, sturdy, greenhouse for our whole Ann Richards community to enjoy!

Thanks for tuning in,

Shahar Ped

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