Young dam builders

During British Science week in mid-March, the Ponds Project Education Team descend upon Hendon School to run engineering workshops for year 7 pupils.

BAM Nuttall engineers designed and resourced an exciting and hands on challenge for the secondary school students. They also sent along some of their best apprentice engineers to help us deliver the workshop, while answering the questions of any budding engineers among the students.HendonSchool-DamProject_IMG-125

The challenge was to use three materials (sand, small stones and larger stones) to build a dam in the black tray provided.

There was a hole drilled in one end of the tray. At the end of the session three litres of water was poured into the end of the tray without the hole. We measured how much water leaked out through the hole. The winning team was the one that lost the least water.


At the end of each session our resident engineer explained and demonstrated the science behind building the dams. As the three materials were different sizes it was important to mix them together so that the smaller particles would fill in the gaps between the larger particles. When in place, putting pressure on the dam compacted the materials making the remaining gaps even smaller, and the whole structure sturdier, so that less water would make it to the other side.

The students really got stuck in, rose to the challenge and produced some really impressive structures, which had a lot of thought and consideration behind them. They also came up with some great questions about engineering. Everyone enjoyed the session and we hope it might encourage the youngsters to consider a future career in engineering.

Photos courtesy of Merve Goulding.

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