Solid Mechanics:
Everyday Examples in Engineering

Lesson Plans

This section contains lesson plans and solutions, most of which have been prepared using the principle of the 5Es: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate (1).  

Video Demonstrations of Everyday Examples

Ideas for Lesson Plans

This section lists ideas that could be used to illustrate engineering concepts. Consider these ideas as you create your own lesson plans.

Axial Loading

  • Earplug Cable & iPod*
  • Salt Water Taffy*
  • Silly Putty/ Play Dough, Cookie Press*

Combined Loading

  • Finding Components Under Combined Loading*
  • Matching Loads and Failure Planes**
  • Visualization of Stress Concentrations**
  • Visualization of Stress Element**


  • Drums*
  • Soft Contact Lenses*

Dynamic Loading

  • Fatigue Failure of an Eraser**
  • Find Components Under Fatigue Loads**
  • Will the Traffic Light Support Structure Fail?**

Shear Stress

  • Shear of Soap Rubbing on Skin*

Torsional Loading

  • Find Components Under Torsion Loads*

Transverse Loading

  • Handle of Old-Time Water Well/ Home Ice Cream Maker*
  • Hands-On Brittle and Ductile Failure (Chalk & Tootsie Rolls)**
  • Making Bread/Bread Dough*

*Source:  Ilene Busch-Vishniac, Tom Kibler, Patricia B. Campbell, Eann Patterson, Darrell Guillaume, Jeffrey Jarosz, Constantine Chassapis, Ashley Emery, Glenn Ellis. Horace Whitworth, Susan Metz, Suzanne Brainard & Pradosh Ray

**Source:  Active Learning Products for Engineering Education, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Cockrell School of Engineering, University of Texas at Austin

(1) Atkin, J.M. and Karplus, R. (1962). Discovery or Invention? Science Teacher, 29(5):45.