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Making Structures Strong: The Beam
Key Question: What features support and strengthen beams?
Some features are used in many structures. For example, most house frames look similar, even if the finished houses look different. One feature that is common to many structures is the beam. A beam is a horizontal structure that supports a load. A doorframe is an example of a structure that uses a beam (Figure 1). It has a horizontal upper beam and two vertical supports.
upper beam

beam a horizontal structure designed to support a load

Hint Horizontal objects extend from left to right. Vertical objects extend up and down.

vertical supports

Figure 1 Most doorframes have beams.

Beams cannot always support large loads. Sometimes the beam needs to be made out of a stronger material or have a different form. Sometimes the beam needs to be strengthened.

Beams can be made of different materials, such as wood, stone, concrete, and steel. Choosing the right material for beams helps make structures strong and stable.

Copyright © 2010 by Nelson Education Ltd.

Chapter 11 Worksheet 11.2-1 247

grooves. A layer of folded paper is sandwiched between two layers of flat paper.2-1 Copyright © 2010 by Nelson Education Ltd. Ridges. Reinforced concrete is good at resisting compression and tension. but it is also heavier. . a steel beam is stronger than a wood beam. or folds in a structure are called corrugation. but they can support heavy loads. Concrete with rebar is called reinforced concrete. These bars are called rebar. Figure 2 I-beams give support to houses and other buildings. Rebar Beams experience compression on top and tension on the bottom. Corrugation corrugation multiple folds in a material that provide additional strength Folding a beam makes it stronger. The I-beam is a strong beam shape. For example. Some homes use wooden I-beams. Some forms are stronger than others. They support the ceilings and floors. Wooden I-beams are lighter than steel beams. Steel reinforcing bars add strength to concrete beams. also called I-joists. Concrete beams are not good at resisting tension. Many buildings use I-beams (Figure 2). I-Beams I-beam a beam that is in the shape of the letter “I” when seen from the end Beams can have different forms.An engineer needs to think about strength and weight when choosing the material for a beam. Corrugation is common in cardboard boxes. Plastic and metal roofs also use corrugation for extra strength. 248 Chapter 11 Worksheet 11.

It reinforces the connection between the beam and its vertical support. Many apartment balconies are also cantilevers. It is usually triangular in shape. Copyright © 2010 by Nelson Education Ltd.THE CANTILEVER cantilever a beam supported at only one end Beams do not always have vertical supports at both ends. It connects the beam and its vertical support. It connects the beam and its vertical support. Figure 3 This cantilever is on the Observation Tower over Niagara Falls. A cantilever is a beam that has support at only one end. Cantilevers can go across long distances without a central support. It can be used to resist tension or compression. There are different types of structural supports. Structural Support Structural supports make cantilevers stronger. • A strut is set at an angle below the beam. A tree branch and a diving board are examples of simple cantilevers. They are useful when a central support would be hard to build (Figure 3). Chapter 11 Worksheet 11. • A gusset is a flat plate. • A tie is set at an angle above the beam.2-1 249 TURN . It resists tension forces. It resists compression forces.

tie strut gusset Figure 4 The tie. Why do you think the engineer used a cantilever beam in this location? 4. Look at Figure 3. a strut. CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING 1. (a) What is corrugation? (b) Where is corrugation used? 3. 2. How do ties and struts strengthen beams? (Hint: What forces do they resist?) 250 Chapter 11 Worksheet 11. Think back to the Key Question. Name two places you have seen beams in your community.2-1 END Copyright © 2010 by Nelson Education Ltd.Name: _________________________________________ Date: ________________________ Figure 4 shows how a tie. strut. and gusset add support to the beam. and a gusset can be used to support a cantilever. .