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Mark Miodownik puts the properties of reinforced concrete to the test. He watches as a beam of concrete withstands a load of 2.5 tonnes. Even though cracks are present in the lower portion of the beam, they stop when they reach the steel reinforcement. Mark explains why he loves concrete and describes why so many of our modern iconic structures are made from reinforced concrete.
This clip is from:
First broadcast:
11 May 2012

Classroom Ideas

In groups, students could build bridges across the classroom using a variety of available materials, such as paper, wood, plastic, ceramic tiles and cardboard. Ask them to think about the properties and structure of each material, where its strengths could be best used and why. How can weak parts be reinforced? Certain alterations will change the properties of the materials (for example water weakens paper, while a sharp crease in the right direction can strengthen it). After sufficient time has elapsed, they can share their ideas with the rest of the class about weak and strong points and how they tried to overcome problems using knowledge of materials' physical properties.