Chemistry KS3 & GCSE: What is reinforced concrete?

Find out how concrete is reinforced through the use of steel.

Scientists demonstrate how this works and how this method was invented in 1853.

Reinforced concrete is use in most modern man-made buildings.

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 Materials: How They Work.

Teacher Notes

Students can use plaster of Paris in place of concrete to recreate this experiment.

They should use card moulds to pour the plaster of Paris into.

They can be given a choice of materials to reinforce their plaster before it sets.

Be aware that this reaction generates a substantial amount of heat and should be allowed to set away from students.

In the following lesson, students can test the strength of their tile by slowly adding masses as it is suspended across a small gap.

How will they compare the effectiveness of their reinforcement against other groups?

The materials they use could be costed by allocating them imaginary costs, and the most effective but cheapest reinforcement material identified.

Curriculum Notes

These clips will be relevant for teaching Chemistry at KS3 and GCSE/KS4 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 4/5 or Higher in Scotland. The topics discussed will support OCR, Edexcel, AQA, WJEC GCSE in GCSE in England and Wales, CCEA GCSE in Northern Ireland and SQA National 4/5 and Higher in Scotland.

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