Summer Schools: Engineering arches (age 13–15)

10.30am to 3.30pm, Friday 16 August

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

This event has already taken place

  • Credit: Tim Mitchell
  • Type

    Summer Schools
  • Audience

    Age 13–15

  • Speakers

    • Bill Tucker


Standard £50

Ri Young Members £42.50

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 in 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.

Bill hopes students will enjoy sharing some of his discoveries about this interesting topic.

Please note

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.

Discounted tickets are available to Ri Members. Find out more about how to join.

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 two weeks (14 calendar days) in advance of the event date. Please note that this supersedes our normal event terms and conditions.


Workshops are on the first floor of our building, for which there is step-free access from the street via lift.

The closest underground station is Green Park, which is step-free.

Seating is usually unreserved for our events. If you and your group require seating reservations, or if you have any other questions, please do let us know by email and we’ll be more than happy to help. Email:

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 preferably via telephone on +44 (0)1844 351666, or at their email address

Ri Young Members receive 15% off workshops

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