Chocolate 'bricks' give children a taste for construction

Issue date: 22 July 2005


Issue date: 22/07/05

Local school children will get the chance to eat chocolate ‘bricks’ and test the properties of insulation by comparing it to Crunchie bars in a special presentation by lecturers at the University of the West of England (UWE) on Tuesday 26 July as part of the Architecture Centre’s Summer School for Primary Children.

Tony Selman and Cathy Higgs from the Faculty of the Built Environment have created an original presentation which aims to enable key stage 2 children to learn about the physical properties of materials used in construction as well as excite and enthuse them about construction and the built environment. The presentation links to the national curriculum for design and technology and science.

Tony Selman explains, “Our aim is twofold. Firstly we want to gain the attention of pupils and generate some enthusiasm for the built environment and secondly we want to help them understand important principles about the properties of materials and how they are used in construction. For example the children get the chance to use thermal imaging to see how heat loss happens, and then we explain that we need to introduce air into materials to create insulation. The ‘Aero’ bar is a graphic example of a material which has had air introduced into it – and the children really enjoy eating this! The ‘Crunchie bar is also very similar to insulation materials used in construction.

“We also show how a material can be made stronger by shaping (such as introducing folds), squeezing or mixing it. We demonstrate this by placing an egg on a sheet of paper over a gap (with messy results!) and then the children fold the paper into a fan shape and see that it is much stronger and can carry the weight of the egg. The same principle applies to steel.

“We show how mixing materials produces a different product – such as a cake from cake ingredients. We also talk about soils and how machines pull soils out of the ground and we demonstrate this by using an apple corer. Children know that when they dig a trench on the beach the walls fall in and we explain that we overcome this problem in construction by pouring a liquid jel into the trenches which then sets. We demonstrate this graphically with a bottle of tomato ketchup – which has to be shaken to become liquid.”

Cathy Higgs says, “This event is now in its third year and is in increased demand. The feedback we get is excellent and all those involved enjoy themselves. The children get a positive view of further study and university life - although we can’t guarantee that all lecturers will enter the room on a bicycle to the sound of Queen’s ‘I want to ride my bicycle’!”

Food for Thought will be presented as part of the Architecture Centre Summer School, being run in partnership with the Archimedia project from the Knowle West Media Centre and the University of the First Age. It involves 30 local primary school children in a fun, ‘hands on’ design challenge, exploring many aspects of the built environment. For further details please contact Amy Harrison on 0117 92 21540 or 0780 3709303.

-ENDS-

Editors notes:

Food for thought has previously been presented at several Aiming Higher Events, organised by Diane Stone, Community Action Centre Coordinator, University of the West of England.

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