Schools Build Bridges

by Michael Ford last modified 19 Jul, 2011 12:29 PM

The Institution of Civil Engineers has been building bridges with students in Salisbury to promote civil engineering to future generations.

Schools Build Bridges

Pupils from Pitton CE Primary School with their bridge

A 15-metre long, 3 metres high cable-stay bridge, which is a model of the second Severn Crossing made from plywood and aluminium, was based at Bishop Wordsworth's School on 12th and 13th July.

Assisted by ICE South West ambassadors from across the South West and consultants Dave Smith and Craig Sutherland of TAFF Consultancy in Wales, the bridge was constructed seven times throughout the two days by pupils of various ages.

The project, which has been designed by ICE, travels around schools across the UK giving students aged 9 upwards the opportunity to experience civil engineering for themselves. Students consider all aspects of the project, from why bridges are needed, planning and
materials, to construction and health and safety.

On 12 July, Year 8 students from Bishop Wordsworth's School had their taste of bridge engineering. Year 5 and 6 students from feeder schools Pitton Church of England Primary School and St Osmund's Catholic Primary School then had their chance to build the bridge on 13th July, helped by sixth form students from Bishop Wordsworth's School. In each session, students were given roles and encouraged to work as a team to reach the final aim of having a bridge that they could walk across.

The sports hall was treated as a construction site and all those involved with building and testing the bridge wore hard hats and high visibility jackets. This was also important for the teachers, who sportingly tested each bridge before students were allowed to walk

Teacher Phil Copley, Head of Science at Bishop Wordworth's School, said: "Although a good number of our sixth formers will go on to study engineering at university each year, this type of hands-on event will hopefully sow the engineering seed at an early age and help increase numbers further.  Also, having the professionals in school was a real bonus in this respect and ensured that the students got information 'from the horse's mouth'."

Regional Director for ICE South West Trish Johnson added: "It has been fantastic to run the Bridge to Schools project with students in Salisbury. The students really engaged with the project and had plenty of questions about bridges and various aspects of civil engineering for our ambassadors.

"To put on an event such as this we rely heavily on ICE ambassadors, in this case Dan Heath, Anthony Pearson, Chris Lloyd, Caroline Tong and Emma Helliker, who each helped to expertly deliver the project. We are grateful to each of them and also to Phil Copley at Bishop Wordsworth's School and of course to TAFF Consultancy.

"We are sure we have passed on plenty of knowledge and given the students an insight into how interesting a career in civil engineering can be. Hopefully some of those we saw will seriously consider a career in civil engineering in years to come."


Media Contact: For more information on ICE South West, contact Coast Communications on 01752 847135 or Julie Everett on 07866 002635

A YouTube video of the project can be seen here:

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) was founded in 1818 to ensure professionalism in civil engineering. It represents 80,000 qualified and student civil engineers in the UK and across the globe. The ICE has long worked with the government of the day to help it to achieve its objectives, and has worked with industry to ensure that construction and
civil engineering remain major contributors to the UK economy and UK exports.

The Institution of Civil Engineers South West has approximately 6,000 members in a geographical area stretching from Cornwall to Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Dorset.

For more information, go to 

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