Seaside Holidays activity 5: design and build a railway viaduct
In this activity children investigate the early history of the railway and its arrival in Folkestone in 1843.
They discover the engineering challenges in building the line - from blasting tunnels to constructing the world’s tallest brick viaduct.
They explore how bridges work, uncovering the engineering achievements of Foord Viaduct builder Sir William Cubitt.
Next, they take part in some fun experiments to build skills and confidence… before building a high-level bridge themselves.
- Have they got the engineering know-how required?
- And will the bridge survive the crossing of a fully loaded train?
Knowledge and understanding of the early history of railways, of the building of the railway line to Folkestone and engineer Sir William Cubitt.
Knowledge and understanding of different types of bridge and bridge building skills.
KS1-2 Science and Design Technology (designing and constructing a bridge, forces)
KS1-2 History (Local Area Study, seaside holidays, History of the railways, Victorian railway engineer Sir William Cubitt).
KS1-4 Geography (the railway line from London to Folkestone, the challenges of geography and geology in building a railway line.)
Children investigate the history of the railways, including the line to Folkestone.
They investigate Victorian engineer and bridge builder William Cubitt (the engineer for the Foord Viaduct) and some of his other bridges including the one at Rochester.
They investigate different types of bridges and what makes them strong.
Learning about Bridges is an excellent free educational resource produced by the Rochester Bridge Trust. It has twelve sessions on the basics of bridge building, aimed at children aged 8-11 years. Each session can be completed in about an hour and the activities are ideal for after-school clubs and home-schooling as well as for classroom use.
The sessions can be used individually or the whole kit can be used for a term long programme.
Design a railway viaduct
Using the skills and bridge building knowledge from Learning about Bridges small teams of children are set the challenge to design and build their own Folkestone Viaduct using everyday recycled materials.
It must be strong and stable enough to survive high winds and a fully loaded train (a working Brio train on a length of wooden track).