The following exploration of the structure of walls and roofs was prompted by the question the teacher asks in Video 3 - Under Construction 56:56 in the Harvard – Smithsonian Series. Available at   Annenberg Learner.. See series notes.

In the video there is a scene where the classroom teacher is walking around the neighbor with her class.

She points to a house that has a structure where an overhang from one part of the house connects to another part of the house and is open below.

She asks. How is that part of the house supported?

Most people, when they view that part of the video, don't pick up on how that simple question
could lead to a rather comprehensive investigation of structures and forces.

This page explores a couple of ideas that I believe the teacher could have been using the question as a focus question to motivated her students into exploring one of the most common structures her students might experience, walls and roofs.

Here are some notes of instructional possibilities we were motivated to brainstorm as possible explorations.



teo walls


thicker beam walls beam roof 1 walls beam roof house 2 walls Beams Roof 3



How does a structure break?


Model of metal fatigue

Metal fatigue model

Source Foreseeing metal fatique from its inception. Science. September 1, 2022.




Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes
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