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Mark Miodownik explores how the Romans produced the first concrete. He works with science historian, Chris Brandon, to recreate the way Romans made concrete using volcanic ash, quicklime and water. Microscopy and animations are used to explain the structure and properties of concrete, and the chemical changes that take place.
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First broadcast:
11 May 2012

Classroom Ideas

Use the example of concrete to introduce students to ceramics and other materials. The class could mix cement, create glass, or make bricks using clay and sand. Challenge the students to figure out how they could strengthen these materials (for example, through high heating, or mixing in stones to reduce the spread of cracks). They can write about what they did at each stage and how they utilised the properties of different materials. Alternatively, students could analyse common items composed of several materials, such as a bicycle, saucepan, chair, notebook and so on, and analyse it in terms of why the specific material was chosen for each component.

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