May the Force Gauge Be with You

By: Brian Beres Ph.D.

The other day in class, we were designing in CAD, and testing 3D printed force gauges. A force gauge can tell how much force it takes to move an object. A student came up to me and asked, “Dr. Beres, do you think this is what a Newton feels like?” My truthful response was, “I don’t know.” In science, there is a lot of terminology that is used to describe different principles. Reading from a text, we often fail to get to experience and touch these concepts in the real world. I do not recall ever getting to feel the force of a Newton, but I calculated it many different times in my High School and College classes.

The students made force gauges of different shapes and sizes. One student even bragged, “Mine is a travel version. I can test force on the go!” It has been such a pleasure this year to be able to work with the students in an intimate class setting that WCDS provides to create things firsthand that allow us to make the concepts a thing we can interact with in the classroom.

The students also worked on demonstrating different concepts of motion. I saw 3D printed skateboards, army men falling with parachutes, trains going around a track, and even a Brachristochrone ramp. It is fun to see the students select such innovative ways on how to test and demonstrate the concepts in the chapter.