Testing the strength of beams

Testing the strength of beams

ZIMSEC O Level Combined Science Notes: Experiment: Testing the strength of various beams

Aim: To make different shaped beams and test their strength

Materials:  thin pieces of poplar wood, sharp knife, weights, 2 clamps, 2 bricks

  1. Cut beams about 20cm long with different cross-sectional shapes. Try including I beams, Tube beams etc
  2. Support the beams using clamps
  3. Hang weights from the middle of each beam or from one end
  4. Find the loads necessary to break the beams and plot them on a table
  5. Test the rectangular beam in different directions so as to change it’s depth


  • Hollow beams are just as strong as solid beams
  • The cylindrical and rectangular beams are equally strong in all directions
  • The rectangular beam is stronger when depth is increased

To access more topics go to the Combined Science Notes page.