Thursday, December 4, 2008

Structural Engineering for Kids 4 - Building Up London Bridge

London Bridge is a nursery rhyme where various concepts in structural engineering may be introduced. Obviously, the concept of structural engineering failures is described in this song - London Bridge is falling down. Structural failure this time is described in relation to different types of construction materials. The behavior and strength of various structural engineering materials and members can be described while playing the song - Build it up with pins and needles…Build it up with wood and clay…Build it up with iron and steel.. Build it up with stone so strong. How the structural members fail depends on the structural properties of the materials – brittle materials like concrete break or crush, ductile materials like iron and steel bend or yield. So London Bridge failed in various ways - Pins and needles bend and break…Wood and clay will wash away…Iron and steel will bend and bow… Stone so strong will last so long. Bridge failures, however, depend on many factors as shown in the video below like the structural design of the piers including the detailing of reinforcement, the bridge deck supports, the soil and foundation...

This nursery ryhme may also be a good opportunity to introduce the concept of strengthening and retrofitting of existing structures. So when London Bridge fell, the ryhme continues - We must build it up again, Up again, Up again. We should not wait for another bridge disaster to occur. We should learn form the previous bridge disasters like those that happened to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940 or the Hanshin Expressway in 1995. We should act now to strengthen and retrofit existing bridges and structures. The last slide in the video clip shows the bridge pier retrofitted against earthquake effects.

1 comment:

  1. LOL, I never knew we were taught engineering already at nursery.