Material Science and Technology for kids
|Back to Main page
More about tension...
|Back to Case study
|Back to definition
Tension is a force that stretches something. Compression is a force that squeezes something together.
Materials are only useful if they can withstand forces. Force flows through a material like water flows through a pipe. When a force is exerted on a material it flows through the material until it reaches earth. The earth pushes upward on the material with the same force, so that the material does not move.
Materials can be though of as being made up of network of atoms connected by springs. When the material experiences a force, the atoms move out of their normal positions and the springs react. In a tensile force, the atoms are pulled apart and the springs are stretched until they break, which is when the material fails. In a compressive force, the atoms are pushed together and the springs squeeze together until they break, which is when the material fails.