SCHOOL students have been building bridges with industry in a project designed to boost interest in engineering and architecture.

Students from Longfield School, Darlington, spent the day with architects and civil engineers exploring the region’s bridge building heritage and learning the physics behind construction.

Year 7, 9 and 10 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering Maths) students were told about the science of engineering before using sweets to demonstrate natural forces of tension and compression and building bridges from paper.

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Newcastle-based Sara Cooper, of Northern Architecture, explained: “We cover the whole region working with schools to encourage young people to look at the built environment.”

Longfield School STEM curriculum leader Ros Walker added: “This region has a rich and diverse history of engineering, particularly of bridge building. But engineering is not just confined to the past; it also has a very bright future.

“We are seeing massive growth in subsea, automotive, construction and train building sectors so the demand for highly skilled engineers has never been greater and it is up to schools like ours to help fill the skills gap.”

The Ingenious initiative, supported by the Institute of Civil Engineers, is a resource for schools delivered by volunteer engineers to encourage the next generation of skilled workers.

Also taking part in the Longfield workshops was Durham University Phd student Jonathan Smith, Arup civil and structural engineer Lynsey Gray and civil engineer Gregory Sills, of Saltburn-based Scurator Ltd.

Student Connor Bell, 11, said: “I really enjoyed the session, particularly the problem-solving part. Some of the physics we had already done in science but we learnt a lot from the day.”