New Vernier Tools Demonstrate Key Engineering Concepts

Vernier Software & Technology just launched the Vernier Structures & Materials Tester (VSMT) to help students in both high school and college to understand key engineering concepts. The VSMT is a device that will help students who are designing, building and testing structures like bridges to understand how important load and stress levels are.

The VSMT is a device about 20 inches tall that has a force sensor that can measure up to 1,000 N (units of force) and a displacement sensor that can measure with a precision of 0.1 mm resolution. With these two tools, students can record maximum breaking loads as well as the characteristics of force and stress. There is also video analysis software in conjunction with the sensors that can help them visualize the exact moment when their structures bend and break.

"When I taught, bridge competitions were one of my favorite activities," said Vernier co-founder and former physics teacher David Vernier. "However, it was challenging to test all of the bridges and accurately apply force in a measured way. Now, students can use the Tester with sensors and data-collection devices to assess bridges and use the data to refine their designs."

The VSMT is accompanied by a tackle kit that has all the necessary aluminum plates, chains, rods and accessories to build bridges and structures of varying sizes and shapes.

The suggested price of the Vernier Structures & Materials Tester is $999.

For younger students — those in the fourth through sixth grades — Vernier has released a new lab book, "Investigating Wind Energy," that will guide them through inquiry-based investigations to learn engineering design methods. The lab book has 10 investigations and one culminating project where students can design, test and refine a wind turbine blade set that converts wind energy to electrical energy.

The investigations and project are intended to help students explore quantitative current, potential difference, power and energy.

"These types of inquiry-based investigations engage students in scientific discovery at an earlier age and provide the foundation they need as they progress through STEM instruction," Vernier said.

 The suggested price of "Investigating Wind Energy" is $25.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.