The activity was put to the test for the first time last month by children from Dovedale Primary School who designed and built a model of the Anfield roof truss using the latest 3D printing technology.
The truss, which is giant metal structure weighing in at 650 tonnes, is a key feature in the redesign of Liverpool FC's iconic Anfield Stadium and the latest addition to the Liverpool skyline.
The Year 5 pupils were tasked with researching, designing and building the truss along with a series of related activities including forming their own company and even coming up with their own brand for it.
Working in groups, the pupils started off by building prototypes of the truss using drinking straws and tape. Once familiar with the geometry, they then used a Dremel 3D Idea Builder provided by the company to help fabricate the 196 individual parts of the truss. These were carefully assembled in stages until the final truss was complete. Finally, the children tested the structure by suspending it between two tables and gradually adding weights until it collapsed.
3D printing – also known as additive manufacturing – involves successive layers of material being formed under computer control to create an object. It is transforming the field of engineering, as well as many other fields, including education, archaeology, bio-printing and even food printing.
University Engineer, Dr Andrew Green, who undertook the project with Dovedale School, said: "It was a fantastic opportunity to introduce the kids at Dovedale to the latest technology and concepts in the field of engineering using the new truss at Anfield stadium as a real life example. They all really enjoyed the project – whether they were Liverpool or Everton supporters. They impressed me with their enthusiasm, their ability to listen to and follow instructions and to work with great care and attention."
Andrew McLaren, Year 5 form teacher at Dovedale School, said: "As a lifelong Liverpool fan, the chance to work on a project about Anfield was too good to be true. After initial discussions with the University, the opportunity was there for the children to investigate the redevelopment of Anfield and to 'Think Actively in a Social Context'.
"They had to become engineers and recreate the new Anfield truss. They researched Liverpool's redevelopment, drew sketches, researched trusses, formed a company, designed a website and logo, built a prototype and made the truss (ensuring quality assurance).
John Laverty, Head of Education & Inspiration at ICE, said "It is great to see new ways to enthuse young children about engineering and I am really pleased that we have been able to help the team at the University of Liverpool convert their ideas into an engaging activity".