Thirty budding engineers from St. Paul's Primary School in Camden got an inside track to bridge building at a unique one-day event at the ICE's new Bridge Exhibition.
The day was held at ICE's brand new exhibition, Bridge Engineering, situated in the global home of engineering in heart of Westminster – which includes the world's longest single-span LEGO Bridge which stands at 3m tall and is 31m long. The school children created their own arch, beam and cantilever bridges out of K'Nex and other construction toys in a range of activities organised by bridge and educational specialists, the Rochester Bridge Trust. They were also joined by a surprise guest – Langdon the Lion – the Trust's engineering mascot.
The children had guidance from real-life engineers while they worked on their bridges. One of those engineering ambassadors, Tom Chick, a Transport for London (TfL) graduate civil engineer, said how important it is to make civil engineering fun and engaging if society is going to inspire a new generation to create and look after our built environment: "It's important we show children engineering in action so that they can see how we apply maths and science in the real world. Doing so brings those subjects to life and helps children make subject choices that keep the door open to exciting and well-paid careers.
"I was really pleased to see how quickly the children grasped the principles of bridge design, such as understanding the materials' behaviours and the forces that act on the different structures. I was asked some really thought provoking questions too, and was even quizzed on how Stonehenge was built! The children were clearly natural engineers - they saw a problem and looked for a solution, which is what I do every day."
A teacher from the school commented that the day was a huge success: "An educational day full of fantastic activities that had the children engrossed in engineering."
With large infrastructure projects coming up in London and around the country such as Crossrail 2 and the Heathrow expansion, the UK will need many more engineers. It is therefore vital that schools and industry work together to spark primary school children's' imaginations and expose them to the world of engineering.
The one-off event was set up to test new ways to inspire primary school children and both organisations will be looking to build the learning from the day into their future outreach programmes. In the meantime, families are welcome to bring their children to see the world-record breaking Lego Bridge and to try our engineering activities for themselves.
To find out more about Bridge Engineering and visitor information, visit: