# MOMENT OF INERTIA Prerequisites: Understanding of Mass vs.

Weight, “Beam Teams” Lesson LEARNING OBJECTIVES Students will: Concepts: - Define and be able to explain “inertia” - Understand and explain “moment” - Understand the meaning, symbolic representation (with the letter “I”), and units of “moment of inertia” - Understand how moment of inertia relates to the stiffness of structural elements - Understand that the moment of inertia of a beam or any structural element is based on the shape and dimensions of its cross section - Understand the concept of “area of a cross section” - Be able to calculate moment of inertia of a rectangular and I-shaped beam Scientific Method and Tools - Analyze a geometric figure - See a relationship between the graphic representation of a beam’s cross section (its cross-sectional area) and a measurable physical property (its moment of inertia) - Express a physical property in symbolic form (the formula for moment of inertia – “I”)) and to be able to calculate “I” given various constraints - Correctly express the units of moment of inertia Collaboration Skills - Share results of individual work with other students and lead a discussion. - Be able to deepen and contribute to the whole-class discussion.

ASSESSMENT The student: - Understands how the stiffness of a beam is related to different characteristics of its cross section, and understands how to maximize the stiffness of a beam given the area of its cross section. - Can manipulate the formula for moment of inertia to design beams with the desired stiffness - Can represent the results in graphic form - Carefully completes all calculations and can predict what will happen if certain parameters are changed. - Raises questions, e.g. How do you calculate “I” for other shapes? How can we prove that this formula is accurate? - Communicates results and reasoning clearly to others

KEY CONCEPTS 1. Inertia is the property of an object at rest that causes it to remain at rest unless acted
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The formula for the moment of inertia of an I-beam is as follows: B A H 2 I = 2(AB) H+A 2 2 + CH3 12 (units = cm4) C The formula above has an additional component. you exert a moment equal to the force of your arm movement multiplied by the distance from your hand to the nut (the length of the handle on the wrench = the lever arm). Gravity acts on an abject as if its weight were all concentrated at the center of gravity. 2. This component takes into consideration the flanges. A moment is the product of a force acting on a lever and its perpendicular distance or lever arm from the pivot (expressed in foot-pounds. 6. kilogrammeters. compared to the rectangular beam formula. the larger the moment of inertia. etc. To limit the bending of the beam. the more mass a body has. 3. The further the mass is from the neutral axis. 4. The larger the load. and is proportional to the square of the distance from the neutral axis of the beam to the center of the Page 2 of 6 . a beam bends when a load acts it on. The moment of inertia tells you how stiff an element is in its resistance to bending (It is also referred to as the moment of resistance of a structural element). 5. The amount of mass an object has is a measure of its inertia. Structures have their own inertia that varies according to the mass of the structure. inch-pounds. It varies with the cross-sectional shape of the beam. you can manipulate its inertia by rearranging the mass in the beam. Moment of inertia is a quantity that gauges the stiffness of a beam. depending on how much of the beam’s mass has been moved away from the neutral axis. Center of gravity is the point at which the mass of an object is thought to be concentrated. The formula for the moment of inertia (I) of a rectangular beam is as follows: B H I = (BH) H2 12 = BH3 12 (units = cm4) 7. For a solid square beam. the center of gravity is at the center of the area of the cross-section. the more the beam bends. the greater its inertia. The load is the external force that moves the beam by overcoming its inertia. For example.MOMENT OF INERTIA upon by an external force.) When you turn a nut with a wrench.

Inertia.efunda. The more mass the beam has. Charles W. Putting the terms together. Neutral Axis. Beams have an inertial force that has to be overcome in order for them to bend. What is inertia? Inertia is the tendency of an object at rest to stay at rest as well as that of an object in motion to stay in motion. we are ready to prove those observed results mathematically. Structural Elements RESOURCES Thompson. www. When the force of the moment exerted by the person on one side of the seesaw is larger than that of the person on the other side. the seesaw rotates. Mass. the larger the moment of inertia and the stiffer the beam. Cross-section. A person on the end of a seesaw is inducing a moment or rotation. Marilyn. frictionless environment) until it hits something or someone stops it. A skateboard rolling on a smooth flat surface will continue to roll (in a perfect. This is why I-beams are so popular. represented by the symbol “I”. The stiffness of a beam can be expressed in a quantity called the Moment of Inertia. the larger its inertial force. We use the term moment in reference to beams because the bending of a beam is a form of rotation. Glencoe/McGraw Hill. We see examples of inertia all around us. If the scale of a beam changes . The moment can be calculated by multiplying the weight of the person by the distance from the person to the fulcrum/axis of the seesaw. These are examples of inertia. Smith. and the more resistant it is to bending (stiff). unless acted on by an external force. Moment of Inertia. Lever Arm. McLaughlin and Richard G.MOMENT OF INERTIA flange. The further the flange is from the neutral axis. Moment. Efficiency. VOCABULARY Center of Gravity.the size of the beam increases by a factor of 2 – the moment of inertia goes up by a factor of 16 or 24. What is a moment? Think of a seesaw on the playground.com/math/areas/ features a Moment of Inertia calculator for checking work Beams in the built environment MOTIVATION A suggested explanation for the class: “Now that we have explored the different shapes of beams in Beam Team. 8. we can say (taking some liberties with the actual Page 3 of 6 . 1995. A desk in the classroom has its own inertia that has to be overcome by a student in order to push the desk across the classroom. Merrill Physical Science.

she asks? You will have to explain how to analyze the stiffness of different types of beams. Distribute worksheets to the students and instruct them to work the problems individually. Discuss why the moments of inertia differ and how that relates to choosing the most efficient beam shape for a give cross-sectional area. Materials Worksheet. Follow with Motivational Questions and a discussion of the Challenge. Page 4 of 6 . before completing problems 1 through 4. Students should work the examples and pause to discuss their results. Have the students draw their final designs on the board and label the sizes of flanges and webs. They should also be able to calculate the moment of inertia of rectangular and I-beams and understand how to distribute material in the flanges and web of an I-beam to maximize the moment of inertia. Students should come away with a deeper understanding of beam behavior. Why not use rectangular beams which are cheaper. After students solve all the problems. The teacher should prompt students to compare the moments of inertia for the rectangular and I-shaped beam of the same area (examples 1 & 2) and see that the Ibeam has a larger moment of inertia. Most of the beams you are using are I-beams.MOMENT OF INERTIA mathematical explanation of moment of inertia) that the moment of inertia is a measure of how much inertia a beam has to resist bending. which results from using an I-beam instead of a rectangular beam (for a given area). graph paper Download the worksheet and modify it to fit the needs of the class.e. If your junior engineer can prove that another shape is better than your I-beams – let her try… PROCEDURE Time frame of lesson: two forty-five minute periods maximum. Also have them indicate the corresponding moment of inertia. a class discussion helps to deepen their understanding and identify patterns in the calculations and the results. hand-held calculator. What factors affect the stiffness of the beam? How can you increase a beam’s stiffness? Why are I beams used so often? Can you prove this numerically? THE CHALLENGE You are a structural engineer on a big skyscraper project. greater stiffness and strength. Your junior engineer is skeptical. Begin with discussion of key concepts and Motivation portion of the lesson. Compare students’ results and discuss with the class the different design options. Every beam has this resistance or stiffness. Students should be able to explain the benefit of higher moment of inertia. i. The last problem in the handout asks students to design their own I-beam for a given area that has a larger moment of inertia than the example provided.

for a beam that structural engineers commonly use in buildings .S5d Proposes. due to rounding. area and volume . The students can check their calculations on the web at www. and simple algebraic notation appropriately .M6a Computes accurately with arithmetic operations on rational numbers .M2k Models situations geometrically to formulate and solve problems Function and Algebra Concepts .M2I Reasons proportionally in situations with similar figures . considers.M6e Refers to geometric shapes and terms correctly .M6d Measures length.M6f Uses equations. and critiques alternative explanations .M2a Is familiar with assorted two-and three. area and volume correctly .National Center on Education and the Economy Physical Science . Add the following problem.efunda. recognizes. A=.M3d Finds solutions for unknown quantities in linear (and exponential) equations Mathematical Skills and Tools .com/math/area/IbeamIndex.S5b Uses concepts from Science Standards 1 to 4 to explain observations .efunda.M2e Recognizes similarity and rotational and bilateral symmetry in two.dimensional objects .46in There may be a small difference in the students calculations compared to the actual property.38in.MOMENT OF INERTIA Have students give each other a pat on the back – they have done the same calculations performed by structural engineers! VARIATIONS & FOLLOW-UP Have students explore the website www.23in.S5f Works individually and in teams to collect and share information and ideas Geometry and Measurement Concepts .M6b Knows and uses the correct order of operations for arithmetic computations .S1b Motions and forces Scientific Thinking .and threedimensional figures . B=6.a W12x26 beam.49in.cfm by selecting Steel W Type IBeams and then selecting W12x26.S1a Properties of matter .com/math/areas/ and investigate the moments of inertia for different shapes of beams.M6h Uses pencil and paper and calculators to achieve solutions Page 5 of 6 . C=. analyzes. H=11. MIDDLE SCHOOL STANDARDS National Standards: New Standards . formulas.M2d Determines and understands length.

3. Students will access. probability. listen and speak for information and understanding. by applying mathematics in realworld settings. data analysis. and trigonometry. Students will use mathematical analysis. 7. and engineering design to pose questions. Students will understand mathematics and become mathematically confident by communicating and reasoning mathematically.MOMENT OF INERTIA Conventions. write. seek answers. Students will understand and apply scientific concepts. Grammar and Usage of the English Language . process. HANDOUTS See attached Page 6 of 6 . geometry. generate. and by solving problems through the integrated study of number systems. Students will read. English Language Arts 1. and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment and recognize the historical development of ideas in science. Science and Technology 1. scientific inquiry. algebra. science and technology to address real-life problems and make informed decisions. 4. and develop solutions.E4a Demonstrates an understanding of the rules of the English Language in written and oral work New York State Standards: The University of the State of New York – The State Education Department Math. and transfer information using appropriate technologies. 2. principles. Students will apply the knowledge and thinking skills of mathematics.

This gives you the moment of inertia of the two flanges. So. there are many more dimensions to consider. The area of the flange is AB. The height of the web is H. to find the moment of inertia (I) you: Rectangular Beam: Base =B Take the area of the cross section. I = 2 x Area of Flange x (Web height/2 + Flange height/2) 2 + Web width x (Web height) 3 /12 Area = 2AB + CH I = 2(AB) H+A 2 2 2 + CH3 12 . You know that the area of a rectangle is equal to the length times the width (or the base times the height).Date Name(s) Moment of Inertia How Can You Predict How Stiff a Beam or a Column Will Be Based on its Cross Section? There is a quantity – called the moment of inertia – that allows you to tell how stiff a structural element is. of course. There are two flanges so multiply by 2. When you calculate the moment of inertia you actually measure how far the material in a cross-section of an element is from its neutral axis. Add the moment of inertia of the web (which is like a rectangular beam so the equation is the same) and your done. multiply it by the height squared and divide by twelve (the constant 12 comes from the derivation of the equation using calculus). Then multiply the result by the square of the distance from the center of the beam to the center of the flange (that is half of H plus half of A). let’s look at a rectangular beam. I = Area x (Height)2/12 = (BH) H2 12 Height =H I Area = BH = BH3 12 I-shaped beam: B A Flanges H Center of flange Center of beam Web C For an I-shaped beam. Its cross section will be a rectangle. First.

B = 20. Draw a picture of the cross section of this beam and label its parts. and make a labeled drawing of the cross-section. Calculate its total area. but its web is 10 cm deep instead of 8 cm deep. Example 1 Imagine a rectangular beam with a base (B) that is 7 cm and a height (H) that is 8 cm. Design a beam with the same cross-sectional area but with a greater moment of inertia. if you could change one of the 2’s to a 3 in either A. B or H. 3. and with a web that is 2 cm wide and 20 cm deep (A = 2. C = 2. Show your work. which would you change to make the beam as stiff as possible? Prove it by drawing all three possibilities and calculating the moment of inertia of each. Be prepared to discuss your results for problem 4 with the rest of the class! . In the problem above. indicating the width of the flanges and the depth of the web of your new beam. and with a web that is 2-cm wide (C) and 8-cm deep (H). and H = 20). Calculate the moment of inertia of a beam with flanges that are 2 cm thick and 20 cm wide. and then calculate its moment of inertia (I) of the beam. By what factor does each change? Why? Solve the following problems: 1. Example 2 Imagine an I-beam with a flange that is 2-cm thick (A) and 10-cm wide (B). A beam’s flanges and its web are 2 cm thick (A and C) and its moment of inertia is 299 cm4. How do its area and moment of inertia compare to those of the beam above? Example 3 Double the size of the base and height in Example 1 and recalculate the area and moment of inertia of the resulting beam.Date Name(s) Moment of Inertia Draw and label your beams and show your work on graph paper for all problems. Another beam has the same flanges as the I-beam in Example 2. The area of its cross-section is 40 cm2. What is its cross-sectional area? What is its moment of inertia? Draw and label the beam. 4. What is its moment of inertia? How much stiffer is this beam than the one above? 2.

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