Sully “civil engineers” design bridges

Children from Sully Primary School became “young civil engineers” during recent workshops organised by The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Wales Cymru.

Building the bridge deck with straws.
Building the bridge deck with straws.
Testing the strength of the bridge with paperclips
Testing the strength of the bridge with paperclips.

The workshops, delivered by a team of volunteer civil engineers from the Cardiff office of WSP PB on behalf of ICE Wales Cymru, involved all Year 6 pupils responding to a challenge to design a bridge to cross the River Taff at the best location to reach a new (hypothetical) park on the other side. The children had to look at influencing factors at several sites and nominate their preferred site.

The second part of the challenge saw the teams build the most suitable bridge design, keeping the budget and the length of the river crossing in mind, using straws and sticky tape. The strength of each bridge was then tested using weights in a plastic cup. The volunteer engineers also talked about their jobs and what their roles involved.

The workshops were great examples of civil engineering in practice and an introduction to possible careers for both boys and girls using their maths and science skills.

ICE Wales Cymru Director, Keith Jones, said: "Civil engineering is a fascinating and rewarding career and it is a delight and pleasure to work with pupils at schools to show them how civil engineers design, build and support the infrastructure of Wales.

He continued: "We have a huge challenge ahead of us in Wales and across the UK to ensure we have enough highly skilled civil engineers to meet demand. In fact, we need to double the number of apprentices and graduates entering the industry and this is why collaborative, inspirational workshops in schools are so important."

One of the final bridge designs
One of the final bridge designs
This bridge was strong enough for an extra load!
This bridge was strong enough for an extra load!

Mr Steve Williams, Head Teacher of Sully Primary School, said: "Welcoming visitors to Sully Primary School is such an important element of our children's learning; it allows pupils to grasp how the skills that they are learning in the classroom today can be used when they enter the world of work. The children thoroughly enjoyed the workshops, particularly relishing the opportunity to work alongside bona-fide engineers and scientists. We are very grateful to local industry, parents and community members who have helped make the children's learning experiences extra special and made both science and engineering accessible and stimulating for our pupils."

ICE Wales Cymru has been pleased to support Sully Primary School in its Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) development programme and has provided activities for a number of years to fit in with the British Science Week, formerly known as National Science and Engineering Week, national campaign as well as the school's own STEM fortnights.

If you're interested in volunteering as a civil engineering ambassador (whether you're a Student/Graduate/Member or retired Member please contact us at wales.cymru@ice.org.uk.

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