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5 Ways to Make Concrete Materials Testing More Approachable Topic

Usama Attiq
Higher Education
Teaching with Labster

Introduction: Concrete Materials Testing

In the advanced world, concrete materials are widely used for construction materials. Concrete is a hard substance formed by a mixture of aggregates and paste. The paste is made up of cement and water which is mixed with aggregate. With the help of a chemical reaction, the paste becomes hardened, creating a stone-like mass. It is called concrete. The quality and strength of the concrete depend upon the mixing proportions. 

Concrete is an effective and useful material for construction work. In this process, the cement, water, and aggregate can be mixed according to the required proportion. After the mixing of ingredients, the water, and cement start a chemical reaction that can lead to the hardening of the mixture. 

Students may wonder, what are aggregates? The aggregates are the main component used in the manufacturing of concrete. Aggregates are designed from fine to rough. They are available in multiple sizes according to the requirement. It is important to remember that all the aggregates should be free of vegetable matter. The reason is that organic compounds like vegetable matter can affect the strength of the concrete material. 

Several aspects of concrete materials testing may be difficult for students to understand. At Labster, we compiled all the complexities that students experience while learning concrete materials testing. Then, we provide five different ways to make this topic easier and simpler for students to understand. In the end, we will be able to convince you why learning through virtual lab simulation is effective for teachers to convey the topic like concrete materials testing to their students. 

MPC mixing concrete

Figure: An image from Labster's concrete materials testing virtual lab.

Why concrete materials testing can be tricky to learn

Three main reasons make learning concrete materials testing hard for students.

1. Need to remember too many terms

In concrete materials testing, students need to remember several important terms to understand the topic's basic concept. It includes learning sieve analysis, particle size distribution, and comprehensive strength. If we talk about sieve analysis, there are different sizes of particles available for concrete formation. Students may become confused while learning concrete materials testing. The main reason is that they cannot remember all the terms and concepts present in the concrete materials testing topic.

2. Complex classification of concrete material testing

There are three main tests for concrete materials testing; Vee-bee consistometer, slump test, and compaction factor test. These tests have different principles, procedures, and instruments. It is important for students to learn these tests. Sometimes, students may find it hard to learn these tests from the textbook. This is the main reason they do not like to learn and understand the topic of concrete materials testing.

3. It’s complicated

Concrete materials testing consists of several concepts. In this topic, you need to learn about the basic mixing of concrete, several types of concrete, testing methods, uses, advantages, and the formation of graphs. Additionally, you need to understand the mixing of substances like cement, lime, and khoa to produce concrete of desired strength and properties. Many students cannot remember all the concepts about concrete materials testing. Students find this topic boring and time-consuming.

5 ways to make concrete materials testing a more approachable topic to understand

Five main methods can be helpful for students to remember difficult topics like concrete materials testing.

1. People behind that science:

Joseph Aspdin

Joseph Aspdin was an English cement manufacturer who invented modern concrete. In 1824, he developed Portland cement by burning clay and chalk. He kept burning the material until all the carbon dioxide (CO2) was removed from the mixture. He named the product “Portland cement”. He started the experiment on the manufacturing of cement. Finally, he created a product that can be ready to launch in the market. Aspdin in partnership with William Beverly introduced the cement product that became successful. In 1825, he developed a new product which was lime. Therefore, Aspdin played an important role in modern concrete and the formation of good-quality cement.

2. Basic knowledge about the types of concrete

Concrete is used for little homemade projects on the large scale like manufacturing buildings. Generally, concrete is divided into twenty types. Let’s discuss types of concrete on the basis of variations in concrete material. There are three main types of concrete depending upon the variation in concrete materials.

  1. Cement concrete

  2. Reinforced cement concrete

  3. Lime concrete

Cement concrete: Cement concrete is formed by the mixing of cement, stone chips, and sand. After mixing the required proportion of cement concrete, it is important to mix the material with crude water for at least 28 days. Cement concrete is highly recommended due to its fire resistance, durability, and strength properties.

Reinforced cement concrete: Steel reinforcement is used to enhance the strength of concrete. Reinforced cement concrete is also known as Prestressed concrete. The word reinforced means strength, so reinforced cement concrete is mainly used to provide support and strength. Rods, bars, or wires can be used as reinforced material in reinforced cement concrete. This kind of concrete is effective to provide support against loads.  

Lime concrete: In lime concrete, lime is the main ingredient used as the binding material. In the formation of lime concrete, the lime is mixed with khoa and surki. It is necessary to soak the khoa in the water before mixing it into the lime concrete mixture. The main advantage of using lime concrete is that it is cheaper compared with cement concrete. It also has good resistance against fire and sulfate attacks.

3. Relate to the real world

When you relate topics like concrete material testing to the real world, it can enhance the interest of students. Concrete has several applications in the world.

  • Manufacturing of dams: Since concrete is a strong and high-strength substance, it can play an effective role in the manufacturing of dams. The main purpose of the dam is t store water and produce electricity. The pressure of water can caseload on the dams. Therefore, concrete is a suitable material for the construction of dams.

  • Construction of small and commercial buildings: Concrete material is used for the construction of small buildings such as residential buildings and villas. In this procedure, the skeleton of the building is formed by slabs, columns, and beans. Additionally, the purpose of concrete in the construction of a commercial building made it safer. Another benefit is that it helps to transfer the heat from the building to the outside environment.

  • Construction of bridges: Reinforced concrete is a type of concrete material with several properties that are effective for manufacturing bridges. Its durability, fire resistance, weather resistance, and ductility make it the best solution for forming bridges. The other types of concrete include post-stressed concrete, pre-stressed concrete, and self-compacted concrete, which are used to construct bridges. 

  • Concrete roads and pavements: The pavements, roads, and driveways made of concrete materials are more durable than asphalt roads. On concrete roads, you need to spend less time in the maintenance of roads. The roads made from concrete provide long-lasting results. 

concrete materials testing

Figure: An image showing sieve analysis from Labster virtual laboratory of concrete materials testing. 

4. Seeing is believing

Using color diagrams to explain a difficult topic, like concrete materials testing helps the students to understand it appropriately. The diverse colors used in the images can be attractive for students and enhance their interest in learning concrete materials testing. Through these color diagrams, they can understand all the testing processes of concrete materials. Additionally, color images can be more helpful in memorizing by the students.

The image presented below shows the mixing of multi-purpose concrete. It is helpful in all kinds of small jobs, such as the formation of sheds, floors, paths, and steps. You need to mix the water with multi-purpose concrete and it is ready to use. When students see this image, it can help them to understand the MCP mixing concrete process. 

Figure: An image represents the MCP mixing concrete from Labster virtual laboratory of concrete materials testing

5. Use of virtual lab simulation

Virtual lab simulation is a great way to explain tough topics like concrete materials testing. These simulations are specially designed for the teachers to share the topic with their students in the class. At Labster, we provide advanced 3D simulations that have gamification elements including storytelling and scoring systems. It helps the students understand the topic by providing all the important details.

Labster virtual simulation of concrete materials testing explains the grading between the fine and coarse aggregates, sieve analysis chart, preparation of concrete mix and samples, the influence of the water content, understanding the workability of concrete, and determination of compressive strength of hardened concrete.

Check out Labsterconcrete materials testing simulation here, or get in touch to find out how you can start using virtual lab simulation to explain the topics to your students.

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