Stop the Stretching

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Learners work with plastic sheeting, masking tape, and string to design the perfect material for plastic chair webbing, and then construct their webbing. Since the best webbing would resist stretching, learners then use a tension testing device to determine how their webbing reacts. This is a good activity to help learners understand the importance of choosing appropriate materials for particular applications. Resource includes instructions for how to build the tension testing device from basic materials. Appropriate safety equipment and adult help are required.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 14

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • --For Test Station--
  • link chain, at least a 14' section (make sure the links fit around a 3/8
  • 8" section of link chain
  • 2 3/8" x 6" round head bolts threaded entire length
  • 6 3/8" hex nuts
  • duct tape
  • 5-gallon pail with strong handle (such as a school floor wax bucket)
  • small pea stones (uniform size) or sand, enough to fill the 5-gallon pail (sand is messier)
  • ruler
  • small coffee can (16 oz.)
  • scale to weigh sand or stones
  • --For Each Group--
  • 1 strip of plastic sheet, 4mm x 3
  • 5' of masking tape
  • 5' of string
  • rulers
  • scissors
  • marker


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Manufacturing Engineering
      • Metallurgy and Materials Engineering
    • Technology
      • Manufacturing
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Center for Engineering Educational Outreach, Tufts University

Source Collection

  • TeachEngineering


  • All rights reserved, Regents of the University of Colorado, 2013