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The Factors Affecting the Deflection of a Spaghetti Bridge

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Introduction

The Factors Affecting the Deflection of a Spaghetti Bridge An Investigation into the Factors Affecting the Deflection of a Spaghetti Bridge - Planning * Preliminary Work I have decided to investigate how different masses affect the deflection of a spaghetti bridge. We have been given a selection of different types of spaghetti. To find the type that will give me the largest range of results I need to test each type to find the one with the largest breaking force. To do this I held the spaghetti in two clamp stands (one at each end of the strand) and then applied a mass to the centre of the spaghetti. Starting at 10g and increasing the mass by 10g each time. Each type of spaghetti was cut to the same length of 20cm. I found that the "Waitrose Italian Spaghetti" had the largest breaking force of approximately 90g. I predict that the deflection of the spaghetti bridge will increase proportionally to the mass applied. I believe this because spaghetti is an elastic material (it will return to its original shape when a force is applied) ...read more.

Middle

I will also vary the length (20cm, 15cm and 10cm) to see if different lengths give me more or less accurate readings to use in this investigation. Analysing Evidence I have discovered that as the mass hanging from the centre of the spaghetti bridge increases so does the deflection. If the mass doubles the deflection doubles, therefore the deflection is directly proportional to the mass hanging from the centre of the spaghetti bridge. At a point the deflection stops being proportional to the mass because too much mass is stretching the spaghetti. Therefore I can conclude that the spaghetti bridge behaves according to Hooke's law (deflection is directly proportional to the mass) until the elastic limit is reached. The elastic limit for the spaghetti seems to be inconsistent with the length. The 20cm long spaghetti has an average elastic limit of 33g and the 15cm long spaghetti has an average elastic limit of 27g however the 10cm long spaghetti has an average elastic limit of 47g. This does not seem to be a regular pattern - I would have to carry out further investigation to see if any of the results were anomalous or if a pattern could be established. ...read more.

Conclusion

I believe that the experiment was designed well but there were a few problems. Reading the deflection off the metre rule was cumbersome and I was not always sure if it had been read correctly. It was also difficult to keep the hanging mass in the middle of the spaghetti bridge since it kept moving. To prevent this in future I would attach the mass to the spaghetti using cotton thread tied tightly so it would not move. To improve the experiment I would find a more accurate way of measuring the deflection. Since using a millimetre marked ruler was cumbersome and the spaghetti was more than 1mm thick therefore it was difficult to decide where to measure the deflection from. I would also find a way of preventing the ruler and hanging mass from interfering with each other since they got in each others way during the investigation. Additional work, which could be carried out, is to repeat the experiment using, a wider range of lengths of spaghetti. The investigation could also be extended to investigate other factors affecting the deflection such as number of strands of spaghetti, thickness of spaghetti or type of spaghetti. ...read more.

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