Truss structures are all around us, but not many will know they are titled as such. Basically, they comprise one or more triangular units constructed with straight members whose ends are connected at joints referred to as nodes (wikipedia) – OK? Understand? Well, in layman terms, quite a few bridges are designed using Truss designs, such as the one pictured below:
The physical concepts behind such structures is embedded within physics. including Newton’s laws of motion according to the branch of physics known as statics. For purposes of analysis, trusses are assumed to be pin jointed where the straight components meet (Wikipedia, again!). Clearly, to create an app to replicate such physics and complex rules would be quite a challenge, but the Truss Me! iPad app, created by Scientific Monkey, now allows young scientists or young designers the opportunity to try out their ideas. As you can see from the You Tube clip below, the app challenges players to think about the successes and failures of their structures, with realistic failure/pressures on the structure, including buckling and plasticity.
Truss Me! is a complex, challenging, but enjoyable app which is aimed at pupils aged 14+ who are interested in concepts of physics and/or design. Reasonably priced at £1.49* (US$1.99), the app is available here or by clicking the App Store logo below.
Updated with a new Video, helping you and your students create a Moon landing structural design! Updated 05 February 2014.