ICE North West launches Bridges to Schools at Catalyst Science Discovery Centre

On 23 September ICE launched a new educational facility at Catalyst Science Discovery Centre in Widnes, Cheshire to help give North West school pupils a taste of civil engineering – a 13m long, fully constructible bridge.

Pupils at the Catalyst Discovery Centre celebrate completing their bridge
Pupils at the Catalyst Discovery Centre celebrate completing their bridge

The 2.8m high prefabricated cable-stayed bridge is similar to the design of the massive Mersey Gateway bridge currently under construction just a few hundred metres upriver.

The first “engineers of tomorrow” to build the new bridge were thirty primary school pupils from Widnes Academy, who erected the bridge for its official unveiling by Mayor of Halton Cllr Ellen Cargill.

David Rowlinson, of ICE North West, said: “We need thousands more civil engineers to help build the infrastructure of the future – from bridges like Mersey Gateway to railways, tramways and cycleways, bus stations and power stations, flood defences and sewers – civil engineering can be a fascinating career, and I hope some of these young people will think about pursuing it.”

Bryan Davies, Chairman of Catalyst, said: “Catalyst Science Discovery Centre is extremely pleased to be involved in this collaborative project with the ICE, helping to enthuse and excite young people about the importance of civil engineering and the effect it has on their everyday lives. This will be made even more relevant for local pupils as the construction of the Mersey Gateway bridge progresses nearby.”

Michelle Dow, Managing Director of MerseySTEM, the body which encourages young people to take STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), said: “This kind of activity is always popular with schools and pupils. They have a lot of fun but they also pick up a real feel for some of the challenges of civil engineering. It’s a great way of giving young people an insight into engineering, and we’re delighted to have this bridge based at Catalyst.”

Schools around the North West are now able to book bridge-building sessions at Catalyst by contacting Meryl Jameson, Marketing Manager, Catalyst Science Discovery Centre, Mersey Road, Widnes, Cheshire WA8 0DF. Telephone 0151 420 1121 or email

Footage courtesty of BayTV Liverpool

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