Testing the Shear Strength of Gummy Bear Mountain

Amanda Keen-Zebert
Murray State University
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Students hypothesize about the components of shear strength using different shapes of jelly candy and then test their hypotheses. The exercise uses simple, readily available, and edible materials to exemplify scientific concepts.

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Undergraduate in-class activity for a small class in geomorphology. The class is required for majors.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Accompanies section on physical weathering. Students should have a cursory content based knowledge of the components of shear strength through reading text or listening to lecture before the activity.

How the activity is situated in the course

In-class exercise.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Components of shear strength, factors of physical weathering.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Writing hypotheses, applying concepts, test hypotheses, evaluate results.

Other skills goals for this activity

Writing, working in groups.

Description of the activity/assignment

Students do background reading from the text on physical weathering and the components of shear strength. Students write hypotheses about the shear strength of different sizes and shapes of gummy candy. The students then uses simple experiments to demonstrate and test the shear strength of the candy types.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students turn in a written report that is evaluated for thoroughness and accuracy. Students also participate in a class discussion about the results.

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