Year 6 pupils from North London became engineers for the day recently when they took over the ICE’s new Infrastructure Learning Hub to see how bridges are built.
The day was held at the ICE’s Bridge Engineering exhibition at Great George Street. The exhibition includes the world’s longest single-span Lego Bridge which is 3m tall and 31m long. The children created their own arches, beams and cantilever bridges using K’Nex and other construction toys in a range of activities organised by bridge and educational specialists from the Rochester Bridge Trust.
The children had guidance from engineers while they worked on their bridges. One was Tom Chick, a Transport for London graduate civil engineer.
He said it is important to make civil engineering fun and engaging if a new generation is to be inspired 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,” said Chick. “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.”
One of the children’s teachers said the event had been “an educational day full of fantastic activities that had the children engrossed in engineering”.
With large infrastructure projects like Crossrail 2 and Heathrow expansion coming up in London and around the country, the UK will need many more engineers. The ICE believes it is vital that schools and industry work together to inspire primary school children to become engineers.