Summer School 2015: Engineering arches

10.00am to 3.00pm, Tuesday 25 August

Sunley Room

The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London

This event has already taken place

  • Arched bridges

    Arched bridges are all around us

    Credit: Roger Muggleton via Flikr
  • Type

    Summer School workshop for 13-15 year-olds
  • Speakers

    • Bill Tucker


Standard £50

Faraday members £45

Event description

In structures all around us, we see arches of different styles and shapes. This workshop with Bill Tucker focuses on two of the more interesting types: those whose shapes are either a parabola or a catenary. Galileo famously confused them - but students at this workshop won’t. From simple starting points of line-art and paper chains, students will explore the essential mathematical and physical aspects of both types of curve before taking on the challenge of building their own free-standing arches. Whether you’re interested in igloos or Euler’s number, bubbles or bicycles, this class has something for you.

About the speaker

Bill Tucker has been teaching physics for more years than he would care to admit. Now Head of Science at Trinity School in Croydon, he confesses that he probably would have become an engineer if only he had known how much fun can be had by mixing mathematics and physics together when tackling practical problems. He hopes students will enjoy sharing some of his discoveries about this interesting topic.

Please note

This workshop is strictly for 13-15 year-olds and will include a 45 minute supervised lunch break. Students will not be able to leave the building at lunch time unless permission is given at the time of booking. Students should bring lunch and a drink, pens, pencils and a calculator.

This workshop is based on an Ri Engineering Masterclass. Students who have attended a Masterclass series which included a session on a similar topic may have already seen some of the content in this workshop. Please contact us on with any questions.

Refunds can only be issued for tickets cancelled at least one week (seven calendar days) in advance of the event date. Please note that this supersedes our normal event terms and conditions.

Financial assistance

The Potential Trust may be able to offer financial assistance to enable children to participate in Ri events and activities if this would otherwise be difficult. Please contact Anna Comino–James on 01844 351666 or email her at

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