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Mark Miodownik learns how reinforced concrete was invented in 1853 by a plasterer from Newcastle called W. B. Wilkinson. Wilkinson inserted straightened steel barrel hoops into wet concrete to resist the tensile forces that cause concrete to crack under load. Mark explains that concrete and steel expand at the same rate when heated which is critical to its many applications.
This clip is from:
First broadcast:
11 May 2012

Classroom Ideas

The class could discuss and compare the physical properties of concrete and steel and explain why they work so well together as reinforced concrete. Ask students to explain why the fact that both materials have the same thermal expansion rate is so important.