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TEC Students Learn about Pascal's Law

Recently, students in the Trades Exploration Course (TEC) learned about the concepts behind Pascal’s Law, which focuses on the principles of hydraulics. Rather than simply learning the textbook definition of Pascal’s principle, the students instead learned how it worked in objects seen every day.

Pascal’s Law states that the “pressure in an enclosed system is equal and undiminished in all directions.” As it pertains to the laws of hydraulics, the simplest explanation of Pascal’s equation is that “force = pressure x area.”

To give students a real-world illustration of Pascal’s law, the TEC instructors turned to arguably the most common source of hydraulics we see: the brake mechanisms of automobiles. Or more specifically, how the process of slowing (and eventually stopping) is achieved as pressure is exerted on the brake pedal. Under the tutelage of instructors, students began the project by demonstrating how fluid from a smaller source (10 milliliter syringe) can push fluid in a larger source (60 milliliter syringe), multiplying the force created to outperform what the smaller amount might suggest. This principle helps illustrate how a vehicle weighing several thousand pounds can be slowed with minimal effort by a person depressing a brake pedal.
 

Beyond teaching students about Pascal’s law, instructors endeavored to integrate multiple disciplines throughout the project. “Students were fully engaged in the process of woodworking, and combining that with the principles they learned in the automotive chapter,” said TEC instructor Ross Laird. “They were conscientious of making precise measurements for the structure, and about making sure no fluid leaked out of hoses or syringes.”  

Students also enjoyed experimenting with different fluid weight, trying to see how small a source they could use to produce results. “Each student did a great job throughout the process,” according to Laird.
 

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Brian K. Hartwell, Ed.D.
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1879 West Genesee Street Rd.
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