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Structural schooling

A PACKED auditorium of 300 school children plus the onlooking ICE President were treated to a one hour introduction to structural engineering by Ove Arup.

Structural engineers Andrew Lawrence, Damian Eley and Sarah McGowan explained all the things a structural engineer needs to do to make a building safe at the ICE Fair 'Constructing the Future'.

Despite a very gentle introduction to the subject which involved the children being told to expect to hear new words such as 'stiff, strong and tension', the presenters soon found out that the children had some idea of what engineering is.

Responses to the question what does an engineer do? included: 'someone who designs motors, buildings and bridges and then fixes them.'

Encouraging audience participation was not a problem as 300 hands shot up when Lawrence asked for a volunteer to pretend to be a building. The young volunteer was then asked to don a rain coat, wellies, shades and an umbrella to demonstrate how buildings need to be structurally sound and protected from the elements.

'We've done this 12 times all over the country now, and each time we ask the kids for their opinion so that we can refine the presentation. We found that the most important thing is to get the kids to participate,' said Lawrence.

The President of the ICE, at the fair as part of the Thames Valley presidential visit, was impressed: 'The children clearly loved it because they understood it and actually got involved. I thought it was excellent.'

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