Truss Me, Triangles are Right for the Job

Well hello Project Ventura enthusiasts. I am Chandler and I am a sophomore in Ms. Jo’s engineering class. As my fellow classmates have said, we are making a greenhouse for our project this year instead of remodeling a vintage trailer. To build a greenhouse, we are learning about structural engineering and one thing that is very important is the triangle. Triangular trusses are what provide the most support for structures like this one (which explains the title of this post).

We are currently going through the process of building mini trusses. This will help us greatly when we begin to build the actual greenhouse because we will know what we are doing rather than going into the project blind and wasting a lot of materials. A truss is a framework, which usually consists of rafters or posts, which support a structure like a bridge or a roof. Our practice trusses are made from paper and small wood sticks. The paper is used to reinforce the hold of a joint (where to pieces of wood come together). Once we complete our trusses, we will be testing them using the stress analyzer and if the truss is made well, then the wood should crack and the joints shouldn’t give.

Examples of triangular trusses.

Examples of triangular trusses.

Our clients came to talk to us yesterday about what they wanted from this project. The Ann Richards School For Young Women Leaders already has some gardens that we are currently using; however, a constant problem is that we don’t have enough space to plant all the things that need to be planted. Another problem is that the students plant the seeds and begin to watch them grow, but they never get a chance to harvest because the process is started too late. In a controlled environment, growing would become much simpler and the students would be able to harvest, which is the best part according to our clients. Our clients informed us that the design is already made and that all we have to do is build the greenhouse.

After discussing some of these basics with our clients, we took a walk to the project site. The specific design that has been chosen for our greenhouse is a modular design meaning that more than one can be created without there being an unappealing appearance. Eventually, if all possible, there would be more greenhouses to separate between classes because there are so many students. We want to make sure that our greenhouse doesn’t block the sun from the garden that is already in the area. There is a water hose near the location for the greenhouse where our source of water will come from. Our clients are very happy that we will be building this for them and can’t wait to see the final product.

Ann Richards students hard at work on their marshmallow challenge structure.

Ann Richards students hard at work on their marshmallow challenge structure.

On a non-Project Ventura note, the Ann Richards School (FYWL) has an annual pathway fair for the eighth graders to help them choose a pathway to be in. All sophomore engineering students participated in running the marshmallow design challenge. The marshmallow challenge requires teams of three or four to construct a structure out of pasta sticks that can hold up a marshmallow within ten minutes. The eighth graders were hard at work the whole time and the winning towers had a few things in common, but the main thing that they had in common was that the students used a lot of triangles. The students, without knowing it, were learning basics of trusses and structural engineering. It was a lot of fun and the challenge hopefully got some of the eighth graders interested in joining the engineering pathway.

The winning structures from each rotation of eighth graders.

The winning structures from each rotation of eighth graders.

Thanks for checking in,



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