ICE Fellow Yan Zhou jumped at the chance to help his son with his schoolwork when the topic of ‘bridges’ was set during lockdown.
A civil engineer has been building real-life bridges for his young son during the latest lockdown homeschool period in the UK.
Yan Zhou, 39, is an ICE Fellow whose background is in structural engineering. He decided to take a few days off over half term this week to teach his son, Muyang, 6, different types of bridges.
“The half-term school holidays feels just the same as term time because of the lockdown. The only difference is Muyang doesn’t have virtual tasks from school to complete. So, as a structural engineer by training, I decided to fill the gap with a bridge (literally),” Zhou told ICE.
“The idea was I’ll draw the concept on paper, then we build the bridge with Lego, followed by a bigger-scale bridge in the garden.”
Zhou has so far built four types of bridges in his garden in Surrey, using leftovers from previous DIY projects.
1. A simply supported beam bridge
2. A stronger beam bridge
#BridgeProject No.2 The bridge beam was upgraded to 4x2 timber. Perhaps it's too early for my son to make sense of elastic modulus but he did understand the timber is stronger than decking board. @ICE_engineers Tomorrow we're planning to make an Arch Bridge! pic.twitter.com/k4BNWFNMem— Yan Zhou (@yan_zhou_ic) February 16, 2021
3. An arch bridge
#BridgeProject No.3 Arch Bridge. Utilising an old curved shower curtain rail, we created an arch to support the wobbly decking board bridge. My son got some hands on experience on marking, drilling, and screw driving. Most importantly he didn't forget his PPE. @ICE_engineers pic.twitter.com/MD3PTkGiI8— Yan Zhou (@yan_zhou_ic) February 17, 2021
4. A tied arch bridge
#BridgeProject No.4 Tied Arch Bridge. Strings were put through the holes drilled on the arch and connected to decking board. The ties at the middle were not put in because my son wants to use the bridge as a swing. Sometimes client requirements are ridiculous! @ICE_engineers pic.twitter.com/P29S0A5N5M— Yan Zhou (@yan_zhou_ic) February 18, 2021
An engineer in the making?
And what does Zhou’s six-year-old think of the whole project?.
“Muyang loves it! He enjoys drawing the ideas on paper, building the model with Lego, and helping me build the real bridge where possible. He definitely knows more about different types of bridges by now,” he said.
He added: “I encouraged him to have hands-on experience with the tools with safety as the priority. I also encouraged him to observe what is the problem, and to think what potential solutions could be to solve the problem. A future engineer in the making?”.
Maybe one day, Muyang will break his father’s record as one of the youngest Fellows of ICE!